As part of a programme of work to reopen borders and reconnect with the world, the Government has announced the commencement dates for quarantine free travel for Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers into New Zealand.
It says this will keep vulnerable rural general practices operating as they come under mounting pressure as a result of COVID-19.
NZRGPN chief executive, Dalton Kelly said with many surgeries cancelled and urban clinics running significantly reduced services, there are urban healthcare professionals with insufficient work. At the same time, the chronic shortage of healthcare professionals in rural communities remains exacerbated by COVID-19.
“Many of New Zealand’s rural practices rely on a small number of healthcare professionals and that number is dropping every year. Rural practices are increasingly reliant on short-term, contract and international health workers.
Kelly says he is delighted that the ministry had so quickly acknowledged the opportunity to provide support for vulnerable rural practices.
He says the agreement with the ministry is to fund locums into rural communities for a broad range of healthcare staff, including GPs, nurses, nurse practitioners and practice managers. There may also be room for administrative locum support if there is a need.
“This agreement is a positive step that will enable us to better support the rural health workforce during a time of great need. It will help prevent burnout of key healthcare workers, protect their mental wellbeing and enable practices to continue serving their communities.
Dalston says he will be emailing every rural general practice in New Zealand inviting them to let NZRGPN know if they need healthcare support.