Monday, November 21, 2022

Stuart Smith: We Need to Open Up Immigration

Stuff asked the following question
We are missing almost a quarter of the midwives we need in the health system and it’s predicted to get worse.
What can be done to urgently get more midwives working and ensure the safety of mums.

Below is Stuart Smith’s response:

New Zealand is experiencing one of the worst workforce shortages in over 30 years. No matter where you look, there are countless ‘help wanted’ signs displayed on windows.

All year, small- to medium-sized businesses across the country have been pleading with the government to deliver more workers, just to keep their doors open.

However, one of the worst affected is our essential health sector. Many would have seen headline after headline in the news about chronic healthcare staff shortages, which sometimes result in tragic consequences.

Midwives, nurses, doctors, surgeons and medical specialists are all in high demand, but New Zealand has a shortage and the government is ignoring pleas from the sector to open up the immigration settings to allow more of them in.

Recently, it was reported there is almost a 25 per cent vacancy rate for midwives across the country. This is shocking. New Zealanders deserve better.

For first-time mothers and fathers, having a baby is a magical experience, but it can also be incredibly stressful. Many new parents rely on their midwife to assist them through imminent parenthood and help keep their newborn in the best possible health.

Failure to have a midwife – or at least not having one for the adequate amount of time – could be detrimental, not only to a baby’s health but also to their parents.

The government should be doing everything it can to attract overseas midwives into New Zealand – instead they are denying there is even a problem by failing to act.

Despite the large shortage of midwives, their profession is not granted immediate residency. This means that if they want to move to New Zealand to work and live, they are forced to wait two years before they can apply for residency.

Instead, the government is giving immediate residency to food technologies graduates and those with PhDs in art history, but not essential health workers.

Countries, like Australia, with which we are competing for overseas midwives and nurses, offer them a pathway to immediate residency. Why won’t our government do the same?

The immigration ‘green list’ settings are not due to be reviewed until the middle of 2023. That is far too late for our healthcare system, which is battling dangerous staff shortages and delivering poorer health outcomes for New Zealanders as a result.

Immigration Minister Michael Wood should conduct a full review of our immigration settings immediately and place medical specialists, nurses and midwives on the fast track to residency.

If a Labour government won’t do this, then a National government will. Pregnant mothers need support, and right now this government is failing them.

Stuart Smith is a N Z National Party politician who has been a member of the House of Representatives for the KaikĊura electorate since 2014. This article was first published HERE

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

And today I read in the Dominion Post that two Welsh Emergency Department nurses who are currently vacationing in NZ have been waiting EIGHT. MONTHS to get clearance to work here. They've given up in frustration and expense and intend working in a pub instead. What utter incompetence and an absolute bloody disgrace! Heads should roll!