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Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says an incentive scheme that has attracted over 240 nursing graduates to register to work in specialties and communities that are traditionally hard-to-staff is making a real difference.

“It’s important people can access the appropriate services that they need, and having sufficient staff in the roles and areas where they are needed is a critical part of this,” says Dr Coleman.

“In total, almost half of all nursing graduates that registered for the 2017 Voluntary Bonding Scheme intake indicated that they will work for at least three years in mental health hospital, community and addiction services.

“Since 2011, when Mental Health and Addictions was added to the scheme for registered nurses, almost 700 nurses have joined under this category which is over 30 per cent of the 2088 nurses who registered for the scheme.

“The most popular role in the hard-to-staff specialty for nurses this year was in mental health, which accounted for around 50 per cent of the registrations.

“The other half of this group are split between community focused nurses and aged care staff.

“A total of 22 graduate nurses have registered for roles in hard-to-staff communities. Of these, 13 will work at South Canterbury District Health Board (DHB), three in the Wairoa District and six at West Coast DHB.”

This year 364 health professionals have registered for the Voluntary Bonding Scheme intake. As well as the nursing graduates, there are 58 doctors, 53 midwives, six sonographers and five dentists.

As at 30 April 2017, 4,228 people had registered for the scheme since it began in 2009 and approximately $34.8 million has been paid out to eligible participants.

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