Government wakes up to National’s call for MIQ spots to be allocated to health workers

The Government has finally got its act together and adopted National’s policy calling for MIQ spots to be allocated for critical health workers, says National’s Immigration spokesperson Erica Stanford and Covid Response spokesperson Chris Bishop.

“National has been calling for this for months,” says Stanford.

“We know there are hundreds of critical health workers stuck offshore who should have arrived months ago supporting our Covid response. It is utter madness that, in a global pandemic and with a worldwide shortage of nurses, they weren’t given priority MIQ spots. 

“We have already lost a number of critical health workers to other countries competing with us before they have even set foot in New Zealand who were sick of competing for MIQ spaces. This is on top of the doctors and nurses that left our shores to go elsewhere who were fed up at being stuck in immigration limbo and not having a pathway to residency.”

Bishop says Health Minister Andrew Little should have moved with urgency to demand that MIQ spaces be set aside for healthcare workers earlier this year when it was clear Delta was coming.

“His claims that health workers can already access set aside MIQ rooms is deceiving, as the bar is so high to be eligible that only 100 health workers out of 250 applicants have gained access to these rooms since March 2020. 

“Unfortunately, the Government’s health response has been woeful. It has squandered the valuable time that we gained through long and hard lockdowns. This Delta outbreak has already hit our hospitals hard and may get worse. We are not prepared because of the Government’s inaction.

“If there is one thing that today’s delayed announcement shows, it is that the Government has no plan. There is still more that needs to be done. National’s ‘Opening Up’ plan covers what needs to be done in detail.”