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Changes to visa regulations could pave the way for the Southern District Health Board to recruit up to 15 much needed new staff.
Over the weekend the Government removed the visa exemption expiry date for critical healthcare workers, a change which should ease the way for medical organisations to arrange mutually suitable start dates.
Recruits formerly had to commit to being in New Zealand before the end of March, a challenge given transport and quarantine requirements.
Board recruitment manager Jayne Jepson said the SDHB had two clinical psychologists, three registered nurses and 10 senior medical officer recruits to whom the change would make a difference.
"The removal of the visa exception expiry date for critical health workers will enable us to now have more flexibility for offers of employment to start any time," Ms Jepson said.
"It will also give our recruits more time to organise their places in managed isolation facilities, providing more certainty that they will be able to start on the date we have agreed with them."
The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners, which had lobbied for the change, was pleased it had been listened to.
"It essentially means now that we can have a funnel of overseas-trained doctors entering New Zealand," college president Samantha Murton said,
About 40% of all New Zealand’s doctors are trained overseas and the former regime had made bringing those people into the country very difficult, Dr Murton said.
"Removing the expiry date provides much more certainty to employers, and to the doctors planning to move here, making New Zealand more attractive to international healthcare despite the border closure."