Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough

In the blue corner

- Stuart Smith Kaikoura MP, National

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 to 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 are sometimes met with 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% vacancy rate for midwives across the country. This is shocking and New Zealanders deserve better.

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

The Government should be doing everything they 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 and graduates with PHDs in art history, but not essential health workers.

Countries, like Australia, that we are competing with 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.

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.

 ?? ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand