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Report exposes over-reliance on overseas nurses

5 August, 2004

Report exposes over-reliance on overseas nurses

Green MP, Sue Kedgley says it is shocking that New Zealand is now the most reliant country in the developed world on foreign-trained nurses.

Figures in the latest edition of the international magazine, Health Affairs indicate that 23 per cent of New Zealand-registered nurses are foreign trained, as compared to eight per cent in Britain, and that more than half of the nurses now seeking registration in this country have been trained in another country.

"New Zealand nursing has been in crisis mode for years," said Ms Kedgley, the Green Party Health spokesperson. "Successive governments have under-valued and under-funded nursing, driving New Zealand-trained nurses out of the profession or out of the country.

"As a result, the staffing of our health system is now completely reliant on retaining the services of foreign nurses whose asking-price will inevitably grow beyond the reach of New Zealand health boards as the worldwide nursing pool shrinks."

Ms Kedgley called on the Government to invest money in retaining home-grown nurses and into making the profession more attractive to prospective recruits.

"Nursing is one of the occupations most valued by society at large and yet most under-funded by government," said Ms Kedgley. "The head of Christchurch polytechnic school of nursing has said that some years she has watched 90 percent of her graduates leave the country in search of better pay and conditions and to pay off their student loans.

"To encourage people into training we should write off student debt for those who commit to working in New Zealand, cap tuition fees at $1500 and reintroduce the universal student allowance - all cornerstones of Green Tertiary policy.

"To keep people in the profession the Government should immediately negotiate a pay equity settlement that recognises the real value of nursing and it should set a binding nurse-to-patient staffing ratio to guarantee patient safety and a realistic workload for nurses."


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