New fund targets 20,000 nurses who have left profession

By RNZ.co.nz and is republished with permission.

The Health Ministry has launched a $1 million fund to attract former nurses back to the profession in the pandemic. Female nurse puts on protective gloves. Personal protective equipment in the fight against Coronavirus disease .

Another 1000 nurses who qualified overseas may also be eligible for payments from the new fund. File photo. Photo: 123rf

Two hundred nurses are eligible for up to $5000 to cover training, English language tests, and personal costs like childcare and transport.

The ministry’s chief nursing officer Lorraine Hetaraka said there are more than 20,000 New Zealand-trained registered nurses who are not currently practising.

“The support fund is to help nurses who are not currently practising to return to a nursing role, to meet increased demand, support safe staffing, and improve access to care.

“Nurses are one of our cornerstones of the health and disability system and we need more across all areas of the health and disability system in Aotearoa. It’s so important we can grow the workforce to help meet demand and to ensure these nurses are experienced and skilled.”

She said another 1000 nurses who qualified overseas and are working in aged care or as health care assistants, may also be eligible.

The first round of applications is open from today, and closes on 14 March. A second round of applications will open in May 2022.

The launch coincides with other campaigns the ministry is running to help bolster the nursing health workforce, including a domestic recruitment campaign, and a campaign focusing on international nurses with a call to come home.

“I’ve said it many times before – nurses are the first port of call for so many patients across the healthcare system and I really do hope nurses will take the opportunity to apply for this funding and return to practise,” Hetaraka said.

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