Welcome end to residency uncertainty – now let’s sort MIQ
The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists Toi Mata Hauora says the Government’s move to fast-track residency visa applications is a positive step, but urgent consideration now needs to be given to prioritising medical staff into MIQ.
Thousands of people have been waiting to apply for residency visas since the processing of applications was paused around April last year.
Figures obtained by RNZ under the Official Information Act on 31 August, showed there were 675 doctors and just over 2,200 nurses waiting to apply for residence under the skilled migrant category.
ASMS Executive Director Sarah Dalton says today’s announcement follows months of lobbying and will end the uncertainty for hundreds of much-needed medical specialists, who can now plan to put down permanent roots in New Zealand.
“We were facing a situation where these overseas-trained doctors, who New Zealand relies so heavily on to staff our hospitals, were living in limbo and being forced to leave or reconsider their futures here”.
One provincial hospital was at risk of losing four desperately needed radiologists.
“With gaping staffing shortages across so many specialties in our hospitals, and services struggling to keep up with demand, we can ill afford to be losing valuable, highly skilled people out of the system,” Sarah Dalton says.
“It also highlights the fact that currently there is no national plan to tackle entrenched workforce shortages as far as we can see. This must be a number one priority for the new Health NZ and Māori Health Authority”.
Given Covid and the vulnerable state of the health workforce ASMS is calling for support from the Government in fast-tracking health workers into the country.
“We don’t understand why direct requests by DHBs to expedite MIQ for urgently needed health workers seem to be falling on deaf ears, especially when priority spaces are found for sports teams and other individuals,” Sarah Dalton says.