Jane Kelley, CEO of Aotearoa’s largest home and community support services provider, New Zealand Health Group, welcomes proposals that will encourage nurses to work in New Zealand, saying that proactive policies are essential to alleviate the nationwide nursing shortage.
“Every day, we see the significant impact our understaffed healthcare sector has on the hardworking nurses and the Kiwis who rely on them for care and support,” said Ms Kelley. “Regardless of how many nurses have moved or left, the shortage of nurses in New Zealand, especially in the home and community sector, has reached beyond crisis point.
“We have to do everything we can to make it easier and more attractive for nurses to live in New Zealand, and we need to do it urgently. Importantly, we need to invest in and optimise our nursing workforce through partnerships, pooling of resources, and good collaboration between the public and private sectors.
“From our perspective, any policy or proposal that means Kiwis who are ill, injured, disabled and elderly are not left without the critical, quality, nursing healthcare they need to stay well, or recover, in their homes should be seriously considered.
“Our community nurses are at the forefront of providing specialised in-home care to some of our most vulnerable New Zealanders, many of whom have highly, complex needs. We are constantly working on ways to recruit nurses to fill community vacancies, including offering incentives, but we can’t do this alone.
“Pay increases will help to grow our nursing workforce, but we need to invest a lot more, and it needs to be done quickly to make sure our healthcare sector is a viable career option for nurses compared to other countries, like Australia.
“Te Whatu Ora’s focus is on ensuring that more health care is provided closer to home and that New Zealanders have more access to early and preventative care in the community. While they have acknowledged that achieving this vision requires more nurses to work in primary and community settings, the reality is concerning – there are simply not enough trained nurses across the entire sector, whether in a hospital setting, aged care, primary care or home and community.
“By working together to share ideas and opportunities, and leverage the strengths and capabilities of individual organisations, we can all help to solve this nursing shortage. If we don’t, the impact on our people will be catastrophic,” said Ms Kelley.