Visa News
December 1, 2022

How Is the Government Supporting the Future of the Healthcare System in NZ?

With the demand for healthcare workers, learn how NZ Government’s changes to the healthcare system are supporting migrant workers into employment in New Zealand
How Is the Government Supporting the Future of the Healthcare System in NZ?

In July 2022, the Government rolled out a new NZ healthcare system. The reform focuses on amalgamating the 20 DHBs and 30 PHOs into one Health NZ to centralise the day-to-day running of healthcare around the country.  

Along with an increase in the health budget for the next year, the Government is setting down changes to give the future of the system more continuity. Budgets will now be set for a three-year period rather than on an adjusted year-on-year basis. 

With 1 million people estimated to be over 65 by 2028, the Government is planning for a future with the increasing level of our ageing population.

What Are the Main Issues Affecting Our Healthcare System?

The New Zealand Health workforce faces many new challenges, from an aging population to skill shortages. With an aging population, an increase in care from health professionals is also expected. Older people are also more likely to have a disability and have more than one health condition. 

Professionals Nearing Retirement 

Our health professionals are also aging, with 40% of doctors and 45% of nurses over 50. 

General practitioners, for example, are estimated to see their workforce reduced by fifty per cent in the next ten years due to retirement. One in five nurses is also looking to retire in years. The lack of new graduates in this area is pushing New Zealand to look to international shores to fulfil their healthcare needs.

We rely heavily on a migrant workforce to support our healthcare system. Currently, 42% of our doctors, 32% of our midwives and 26% of our nurses are migrant workers. However, to ensure the health and expectations of caring for New Zealanders are met with the support of migrants, New Zealand needs to invest in training continually.

Skill Shortages

Generally, there has been a labour shortage in New Zealand for quite some time. This is because the healthcare workforce in New Zealand, prior to 2020, had been topped up with migrant workers entering on visas such as the skilled migrant visa NZ. However, due to the increased workload and pressure on healthcare workers over the pandemic, this problem has compounded for the New Zealand health system. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government brought in 5700 critical healthcare workers despite global borders being closed.

Immigration NZ introduced New Zealand Green List Jobs to prioritise Medical professionals like nurses and doctors to grow the workforce alongside local graduates. However, this is not a quick road to recovery for our healthcare system. 

What is the Government Implementing to Help Overcome These Issues?

There are several ways that the Government aims to improve the healthcare system and support New Zealand's growing and aging population.

All of the health reform changes are designed to reduce the pressure on specialist and hospital care.

Preventative Care

Healthcare reform is shifting its approach to prioritise preventative care. For example, ensuring our population has access to their GPs and healthcare to treat ailments before they become larger issues. 

"A shift to focussing on better, earlier care at GPs and local health centres will ensure New Zealand's health system can provide quality care, at the right time, and in the right place, while taking pressure off our hospitals," Andrew Little said.

Less Administration & More Care

The Government has designed a new health system to enable a holistic approach to planning and delivering services by condensing all DHBs and PHOs into one system, Health NZ. This should provide consistency and efficiency across the country. 

Technological Upgrades

Upgrading the national system backed with modern technology and more secure IT platforms aims to allow medical professionals to access all of a patient's medical information and streamline treatment and administration.

A High-Quality Workforce

The Government has increased the budget for 3000 nurses and an additional 1000 healthcare places over a period of four years. They are also investing NZ$76 million to develop a primary healthcare workforce, including 1,500 training places for nursing, physiotherapy and pharmacy. 

What Does This Mean for Overseas Healthcare Workers?

The Government is rebalancing New Zealand's immigration system by implementing a shift in the future migrant workforce to increase New Zealand's productivity and rebalance the skills gap to support our country's growth. The rebalance ensures New Zealand is an attractive destination for highly skilled workers in global shortage.

With record lows in NZ employment, overseas workers are in high demand by the NZ Healthcare system. The introduction of the Green list has opened up a list of highly skilled roles which can be pathways to residence for migrant workers.

How the Visa Changes Will Affect Healthcare Roles

There are currently over 40 healthcare roles on the Government's Green List of priority visa applications that will either grant the migrants a fast track to residency or allow for a work to residence.

Fast-Tracked Pathways to Work & NZ Residency

  • The "fast-tracked - straight to residence" provides residency for highly-skilled people in global-demand professions. These are assessed before arriving in New Zealand after securing a relevant job offer. This path relates to the Green List occupations and opened for applications on 5 September 2022.
  • The Work to residence visa nz gives residency to people from certain professions on the Green List who work in New Zealand for two years. This path also relates to the Green List occupations and requires people to have worked for 24 months and opened for applications on 29 September 2022.
  • The "Highly paid - twice the median wage" was recently announced and will provide residency for people under 55 who have worked for two years or more in New Zealand, earning 2x the median wage. This resident visa is for people who have worked for 24 months earning twice the median wage and opens for applications on 29 September 2022.

The Work to residence visa nz and "Highly paid" pathways require workers to be on an Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV NZ), which is a visa offering NZ working rights for a select few if migrants meet a certain threshold. For more advice on securing your right to work in New Zealand, Malcolm Pacific can help answer questions and support you with your application.

How NZ Is Supporting Migrant Health Workers

NZ is providing support to recognise migrant health workers’ qualifications. By financially supporting doctors and other healthcare workers within their formative first months in New Zealand, the Government is hoping to attract more migrants. 

New Opportunities for Migrants to Get Their Healthcare Qualifications Recognised

To ensure that health professionals can get their qualifications recognised in New Zealand, they have introduced several opportunities:

  • For Nurses, there is up to NZ$10,000 worth of funding available to complete competence assessment programmes necessary to register in New Zealand.
  • For Doctors, there is a 6-month bridging programme, including paying their salary for their six-week clinical induction course and three-month training internship. 

Get Licensed Immigration Advice Today

Whether you're considering applying for a work-to-residence visa nz, planning a new way of life in New Zealand or becoming part of our healthcare system, Malcolm Pacific Immigration can help. Our licensed advisers assist you in understanding the visa process and take the stress away to let you focus on your business. We have an employer services team on standby and ready to help. 

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