National’s Plan to Solve Critical Healthcare Worker Shortages


National understands the importance of building the resilience of our healthcare sector. With the world competing for global talent to help their fight against Covid-19, we need to ensure we don’t lose our critical health workers to other countries, while attracting the best talent from overseas.

Currently, huge delays in processing visas resulting in a years-long backlog of residency applications, and a frozen residency pool is leaving many of our nurses and doctors stuck in immigration limbo. They can’t access Kiwisaver or buy a house. They’re fed up and they’re now they’re choosing to leave. The outbreak of the Delta variant has shown how desperately we need experienced specialist nurses and doctors here in New Zealand.

There are currently more than 2230 nurses and 675 doctors who have been stuck in the frozen pool for up to 18 months while the Minister has sat back and done nothing. We risk losing these valuable workers if the Minister fails to act with urgency.

If we want the best, we need to be the best. National has a plan to ensure New Zealand remains an attractive destination for health professionals to come and work at time when we need them more than ever.

Our plan

National’s plan to address shortages in the healthcare system involves 3 steps:

1. Instruct immigration officials to urgently reopen the frozen Skilled Migrant Category visa EOI pool and prioritise processing of residence applications for critical healthcare workers.

This will provide certainty to our valued nurses and doctors that they have a future here in New Zealand, and ensure they remain to help us in our fight against Covid-19.

2. Offer residence class visas on arrival to specialist nurses with the qualifications, skills and experience to allow them to immediately start working in New Zealand.

This will bolster our healthcare workforce, and address the critical work shortages this sector faces. MIQ spaces would need to be set aside to ensure they could arrive as soon as possible.

These visas would be subject to section 49 conditions, meaning visa holders would need to meet those conditions before full residence is granted. MIQ spaces would also need to be set aside to ensure they could arrive as soon as possible.

It will also involve actively targeting nurses who would not have to complete a Competence Assessment Programme on arrival. This will mean attracting nurses from countries with similar healthcare systems to New Zealand, such as the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, Singapore, the United States of America or Canada.

3. Fast-track the pathway to residency for those critical healthcare workers already in New Zealand on Residence from Work visas by removing the requirement of having to hold a Talent (Accredited Employer) work visa for at least 24 months.

Our vision

National understands that we need a fair, transparent and effective immigration system that ensures New Zealand benefits from all the world has to offer. As a country with a strong immigrant tradition, we would ensure New Zealand regains its status as an attractive destination globally.

New Zealand should be one of the most attractive destinations in the world for migrants to bring their skills to. Our immigration policies should support New Zealand’s long-term sustainability, economic competitiveness and international standing.

You can read more on our other plans to fix the immigration crisis here.