Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says an incentive scheme designed to increase the number of health professionals working in communities and roles that have traditionally been difficult to staff is making a real difference.
“It’s important that health facilities around the country are well equipped to provide New Zealanders with the treatment that they need, when and where they need it,” says Dr Coleman.
“A total of 364 health professionals have registered to take part in the 2017 Voluntary Bonding Scheme intake, which supports New Zealand graduates to establish careers in the communities and specialties that need them most.
“New data shows that the 2017 registrations in the scheme per 100,000 people are highest in the smaller DHB’s such as Northland, Lakes, Taranaki, Tairawhiti, West Coast and South Canterbury.
“We are working to ensure that our health professionals have the opportunity to support rural communities and are incentivised to take up specialty roles.
“To date, approximately $34.8 million has been paid out to eligible participants to help ensure that our health workforce has access to some of the country's best graduates in the roles and areas where they are needed.”
As at 1 February this year, 4,228 people, including the new 2017 intake, have registered for the scheme since its introduction in 2009.
Those on the scheme receive three annual payments after a bonded period of three years, to help repay their student loan, or as top-up income.
A total of 3,245 payments have been made to a total of 1,560 people, including 1,210 nurses, 175 midwives, 149 doctors, and 26 radiation therapists.
This programme is supported by the extra $3.9 billion invested into the health sector by Budget 17, taking the health budget to a record $16.8 billion.