6 Feb 2014

Voluntary bonding scheme expanded

7:31 am on 6 February 2014

The Rural General Practice Network says including primary care nurses in a voluntary bonding scheme will be a big step in improving rural health services.

A registered nurse with uniform and badges.

A registered nurse with uniform and badges. Photo: PHOTO NZ

The scheme was introduced several years ago to encourage doctors and other health professionals to work in areas that were difficult to staff, including rural communities.

The Government has revised the bonding scheme this year to include more areas and specialities for doctors, nurses and midwives.

Rural General Practice Network chai Jo Scott-Jones says the inclusion of primary care nurses is especially important.

He says there is a real crisis in the nursing workforce, particularly in rural primary care and it's hoped the voluntary bonding scheme will attract young nurses into that career.

Dr Scott-Jones says nurses who graduated in 2012 and who are looking at practice nursing and are looking to work on the West Coast of the South Island and in South Canterbury district health board areas can apply for voluntary bonding for this year.

He says a survey of more than 50 rural practices in December showed a quarter had vacancies for registered nurses and some were also looking for doctors.