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Pay and Conditions Drive Nurses Offshore Too

Pay and Conditions Drive Nurses Offshore Too

“Doctors are not alone in leaving New Zealand for better pay and conditions,” said New Zealand Nurses Organisation CEO, Geoff Annals today.

“Underpaid and overworked nurses are also lured overseas.”

Geoff Annals said, while the numbers are known for the exodus of doctors, the Ministry of Health did not even collect the statistics on nurses leaving for greener pastures overseas.

“The basic information to allow workforce planning is not available,” he said.

“It is essential that the Ministry starts collecting those statistics and that nurses are offered the incentives needed to keep them in nursing.”

Geoff Annals said what we do know is that nurses can easily earn much higher wages outside New Zealand and many chose to leave.

A number of recent studies show the need for increased incentives to attract nurses and keep them in nursing.

A 2002 research report [1] into nurses’ career plans found that young nurses in particular were intending to seek better paid work overseas. Another 2002 study [2] showed a third of nurses intended to leave in the following 12 months.

“We know we have a nursing shortage of around 2,000 nurses, but as well as nurses leaving to work overseas, many nurses stay here and take up other jobs on better pay.”

Geoff Annals said the recruitment of nurses cost DHBs $100million a year. Some DHB’s, like Palmerston North’s MidCentral Health, recruited overseas nurses to fill the gaps.

“That money which would be better spent retaining nurses in our hospitals,” he said. “The solution to the nursing shortage is better pay and realistic workloads.”

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