10 May 2019

Rest homes say immigration decision will recruit vital overseas nurses

5:02 pm on 10 May 2019

Rest homes are confident a government immigration decision will help address chronic nursing shortages in aged care.

Nurse putting hand on elderly woman's shoulder

Photo: 123RF

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway has put aged-care nurses back on the long term skills shortage list.

Aged Care Association chief executive Simon Wallace said the decision of the previous government to remove them from the list exacerbated staff shortages, removed pathways to residency, and left foreign nurses uncertain about their futures in New Zealand.

The decision effectively declared a nationwide shortage of nurses in aged care.

"That [new decision] does give our rest home operators the ability to recruit nurses from overseas and retain their current overseas nurses without having to go through a rigorous labour market test to prove that they can't find a Kiwi," he said.

"This comes at a time when we have huge shortage in nurses in aged care so it's a very welcome decision for the government.

"Rest homes in New Zealand have lost in the order of five or six hundred nurses - so its about 10 percent of our nurse workforce - to public hospitals over the last six to nine months and that's because of better pay being offered to nurses in public hospitals.

Nurses from the Philippines and India in particular were working in rest homes at present, he said.

Key changes announced this week:

  • The regional skill shortage lists are replacing the immediate skill shortage list, and the number of regions is expanding from six to 15
  • Three occupations (early childhood, primary school and secondary school teacher) are being added to the new regional skill shortage list
  • Aged care nurses is being added to the long term skill shortage list
  • Building associate is being added to the construction and infrastructure skill shortage list

Announcing the change this week Mr Lees-Galloway said the government was focusing on making clear which skills were needed in which region, and changes to the lists would show New Zealanders and temporary migrants where their opportunities for work were in provincial New Zealand.

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