Kiwi nurses seeking to work across the Tasman has jumped back up to the highest level in five years.
The latest Nursing Council statistics for nurses seeking verification of their registration so they can practice in Australia show 1555 nurses applied in the year to March 31 2017 – more than double the rate of two years ago.
Since about 2006 the number of Kiwi nurses applying to nurse across the ditch had been steady at around 1200 to 1500 but had slumped to just 750 in the 2014-15 year and rose only slightly to 819 in 2015-16.
The 2017 statistics showed a steep increase in nurses seeking to nurses overseas in all destinations (up from 1272 in 2015-16 to 1804 in 2016-17) but has still not reached the peak years of 2001-02 and 2011-12 when more than 2200 nurses sort verification of their registration to work overseas.
How many of last year’s 1555 applicants were planning to permanently move to Australia in is unknown as a number of Kiwi nurses are known to cross backwards and forwards across the Tasman to take on lucrative short-term – mostly rural and remote – nursing contracts.
What is known from Nursing Council annual practising certificate (APC) stats is that in 2016 there were 1347 overseas-based nurses with valid New Zealand APCs. Which indicates that many nurses keep the option open of returning to nurse in New Zealand.
Outgoing Chief Nurse Dr Jane O’Malley said Kiwis would continue to go to Australia but what was most important was ensuring that new graduate nurses start their careers in New Zealand. “So when they finish in Australia they are more likely to come back and practice in New Zealand then if they had never practised here.”
She was particularly encouraged by the latest Ministry of Health and ACE analysis which indicated that 86 per cent (806) of the 2012 nurse graduates who gained a place in a government-subsidised NETP (Nurse Entry to Practice) programmes were still in nursing five years on – and only about a dozen of those were not practising in New Zealand. Overall more than 80 per cent of the 1514 new graduates registered in 2012 were still nursing in New Zealand five years after graduating.