How to fix health staffing shortage

Further revelations about capacity cuts and delays getting the new Dunedin hospital build under way are really concerning.

I continue to push hard for the project to progress.

I’ve said many times the biggest cost pressure is delay.

But good healthcare is mostly about the people providing the care.

There is another crisis in our health system.

A severe shortage of nurses and midwives is contributing to ballooning wait lists, delays accessing treatment and dangerously overcrowded emergency departments.

Nurses at the frontline are bearing the brunt of the shortage.

Having to work long shifts without enough staff is driving stress, anxiety and burnout.

New Zealand is at least 4000 nurses and hundreds of midwives short of what is needed.

The previous National government introduced the voluntary bonding scheme for doctors, nurses and midwives in hard-to-staff areas.

Just about everywhere is now hard to staff, so National will supercharge the scheme by making all graduates eligible for student loan forgiveness.

National will pay the student loan repayments of nurses and midwives up to a total of $4500 a year for the first five years after graduating, provided they remain working in their profession in New Zealand.

Covering student loan repayments for five years means a typical registered nurse or midwife would see an increase in their after-tax take-home pay of $87 a week.

Over a five-year period, they would be up to $22,500 better off.

National will also make New Zealand more competitive globally by allowing qualified overseas nurses and midwives to come here on a six-month temporary visa, without a job offer, to look for work and to bring their immediate family members with them.

We will also establish a relocation support scheme, offering up to 1000 qualified overseas nurses and midwives relocation grants worth up to $10,000 each to support their move to New Zealand.

Labour has overseen a crisis in the health workforce.

National will deliver more nurses and midwives so our hardworking frontline feel supported and Kiwis can access the healthcare they deserve.

More details of the policy can be found online by searching "Delivering more nurses and midwives — New Zealand National Party".