The country’s leading primary and community health membership organisation, the Federation of Primary Health, is pleased with the Government’s announcement today but stresses more must be done as quickly as possible to address workforce issues.
Federation board member and Executive Director of the New Zealand College of Nurses, Professor Jenny Carryer, says importing nurses is not the answer, and the recruitment campaign announced today doesn’t seem to address the financial stress current students are already facing.
“There’s a global shortage of at least 12 million nurses and another 4 million nurses are expected to retire in the next 10 years so we really should be growing our own workforce rather than further depleting the worlds workforce. It takes three-four years to train a nurse however reducing the high attrition rate within the profession and within the nursing student population would definitely make a positive difference to our shortage,” she says.
“The local nursing student recruitment campaign launched today is positive but the lack of initiatives related to the retention of qualified nurses and nursing students is disappointing. A significant number of current students are withdrawing from study because of financial stress. They’re required to undertake 1100 hours of clinical placements while completing their degree. Being in and out of clinical placements while managing part-time work is incredibly challenging. We are also seeing anecdotal evidence of enrolments being negatively affected by publicity around burnout and safety in nursing,” she says.
General Practice New Zealand Chair, Dr Jeff Lowe, says being strategic and planning for the long term is as important as dealing with the workforce problems, now.
“A growing number of GP practices around the country aren’t taking new patients because they are at capacity,” he says. “We are reaping what we have sown over the years, which is a lack of investment in our GP workforce – both financially and planning-wise. The announcement today is good in so far as it is an acknowledgement of the crisis however it doesn’t go far enough.”
Chair of the Federation of Primary Health, Steve Chadwick, says although health workforce issues can’t be addressed overnight, the Federation wants continued emphasis on supporting New Zealanders to enter the workforce. “This is critically important for the long-term,” she says.