“Minister of Health Andrew Little is spinning on the head of a pin so he doesn’t have to answer how many nurses New Zealand actually needs,” says ACT’s Deputy Leader and Health spokesperson Brooke van Velden.

“The Minister revealed through Written Parliamentary Questions (WPQ) that we need 4,700 nurses to fill vacancies, when I asked him in Parliament today if this number has increased in the three weeks since answering the WPQ, he refused to acknowledge private vacancies so he didn’t have to answer the question, instead acknowledging public vacancies as being at 3,335.

“Whatever the number is it’s far too many. Compared to our trans-Tasman neighbours we’re getting slaughtered when it comes to attracting nurses. Campaigns via Shortland Street just won’t cut it.

“The number of nurses working per 100,000 New Zealanders has only increased by 5.57 per cent since March 2018, during the same period the number of nurses working for every 100,000 Australians increased by over 13 per cent.

“Between January and March 2021 Australia had over 418 more nurses caring for every 100,000 of their citizens than New Zealand did.

“In the midst of a global pandemic we are desperately short of nurses. The Government is doing nothing to make New Zealand more attractive for nurses to move here, instead migrant nurses aren’t eligible for residency until after two years in New Zealand.

“ACT would provide a pathway for nurses to come to New Zealand and help our under-pressure health system. We would:

  • Provide all occupations on the ‘Green List’ a fast-track to residency by removing the ‘work to residence’ divide
  • Simplify the Accredited Employer Work Visa scheme by abolishing labour market tests, wage rules, and make it easier for migrants to move between accredited employers.

“It’s time to get real on our health crisis or we’ll keep slipping behind the rest of the world.”

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Brooke van Velden