1 June 2014

"India NZ’s biggest migrant nurse source""Sharp drop in NZ nurses crossing Tasman" "Record new graduate nurses registered" "NNO vision for 100% graduate nurse employment by 2018"


India once again NZ’s biggest migrant nurse source

Nurses from India are again New Zealand’s biggest source of overseas qualified nurses, with migrant nurses from the United Kingdom at an all-time low.

A decade ago, New Zealand registered around 800 nurses a year from the UK and around 150 each from India and the Philippines.

The number of nurses registering from the UK steadily declined over the decade, then slumped markedly in 2009 with the impact of the recession and tighter registration criteria. Registrations from the UK have now dropped to a new low of just 128 nurses.

Registrations from the Philippines and India at the same time have been steadily growing, with India for the first time overtaking the UK as New Zealand’s largest source of migrant nurses in 2009 and then the Philippines for the following three years.

Provisional figures from the Nursing Council show in the year to March 31 2014 India was again our top source of nurses registered with 509 nurses, followed by Philippines with 339, the UK 128, and Australia 84. On average, New Zealand is now registering 1200–1300 overseas nurses a year after peaking at about 1700 overseas registrations a decade ago.

Reed says the Council doesn’t really know what is behind the decline in UK enrolment and is unsure whether there has been less active recruiting in the UK by district health boards than in the past.

“From my perspective, what I see is a really strong commitment to grow our own graduates or employ our own graduates at least unless it is an advanced position where you need some overseas expertise.”


Sharp drop in Kiwi nurses crossing Tasman

The number of Kiwi nurses seeking to cross the Tasman has dropped sharply by about a third and is at the lowest level for about a decade.

Preliminary data from the Nursing Council indicates that just over 1000 nurses sought verification to work in Australia in the 12 months leading up to 31 March 2014 compared with nearly 1500 the year before.

The number of nurses seeking to work in other countries like the USA and UK has also fallen, with the result that only 1280 nurses in total sought verification, down nearly 1000 from the peak of nearly 2300 in 2011-2012.

“Which I guess is good news,” says Nursing Council chief executive Carolyn Reed.

She also points out that while people seek verification to work overseas, it doesn’t mean all will actually leave.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean that we lose them to practice in New Zealand, because we are aware of some nurses who hold dual registration and who do temporary contracts in Australia.”

The decline in verification mirrors the overall fall-off in New Zealanders crossing the Tasman, with the net loss to Australia down to just over 11,000 people – well down on the previous year’s 34,000 net migration loss. The monthly net loss of migrants across the Tasman in April 2014 was also the lowest since such data started being collected in 1996.

Record new graduates registered

A record 1788 new graduate RNs were registered in the year to March 2014, initial Nursing Council data indicates. When combined with the nearly 120 new enrolled nurses, this brought the new New Zealand-trained nurses on the register up to 1907.

“It’s massive, really,” said Reed.

It was also ahead of the projected growth recommended in the Nursing Council’s BERL nursing supply report, which said to maintain the same nurse-to-New Zealander ratio in 2035 the number of graduate nurses would need to grow from about 1500 in 2010 to 2,200 a year by 2035. (To meet the high needs scenario, it was suggested the number of new graduates would have to rise to nearly 3000 by 2035).

But the desired surge in new graduates to meet projected future demand has also come at a time when the ongoing impact of the recession means low nurse turnover – including delayed retirements and few nurses heading overseas – and very tight district health board budgets,

“We’re in an interesting situation where everyone is predicting shortages but there aren’t a lot of jobs around for nurses (at present),” says Reed. (See newsfeed stories for latest graduate job hunting numbers, which indicated that about 230, or 17 per cent, of November graduates were still job hunting six months later)

But Reed says, looking at the council figures, the number of new graduates nursing in New Zealand appeared to be possibly above Australia’s graduate employment levels.

Australian trade unions recently called for a tightening of temporary work visas for nurses, with nearly 3100 brought in annually to fill nursing positions, which they estimated was about the same number of graduates turned away by public and private hospital employers.


NNO vision for 100% new grad employment by 2018

Boosting new graduate employment, improving workforce data, and developing the nurse practitioner role are amongst recommendations made in a National Nursing Organisations, report to Health Workforce New Zealand.

The 25-page report summarises data and initiatives developed by the ten-member organisations in the past three years and follows a critical open letter to HWNZ penned by three of the organisations in late 2012.

HWNZ responded last year, saying nursing would be a major focus, and in its June 2014 stakeholder bulletin, this was updated to say it was working with the NNO and Office of the Chief Nurse on a nursing workforce programme, with the four workstreams to be up-and-running by the end of July.

The organisations’ paper, released in May, says “piecemeal initiatives” addressing parts of the health system had not been integrated and its recommendations require “urgent consideration”.

NNO says its vision is for 100 per cent new graduate nurse employment by 2018 “at the least” and recommended nursing schools and employers working together to employ more new graduate nurses. Of particular note was the need to improve employment of new graduates in aged care and primary health and offer specific funding and solutions to develop Māori and Pacific new graduate employment. It also says a more streamlined approach to NP development and employment had been agreed by the NNO group and a proposal for a demonstration of an alternative NP pathway was presented to the HWNZ board in March 2014.

HWNZ said in its stakeholder bulletin that other initiatives to be part of the nursing workforce programme included role development for nurses undertaking endoscopy and further development of the nurse practitioner role.

The full paper can be seen at: