Voluntary bonding dropped for surgical ward nurses, opened up to PHC

4 February 2014

New nurses working in surgical wards will no longer be eligible for the voluntary bond scheme.

But recent graduate nurses working in primary health care are for the first time eligible for the voluntary bonding scheme and primary health care is now listed in the top three hard-to-staff specialty priorities along with aged care and mental health.

Health Minister Tony Ryall announced yesterday that the scheme, now into its sixth year, would add primary health care to its “hard-to-staff” specialties. For the first time, the scheme has added hard-to-staff communities to the nurses’ scheme, with nurses ready to work in the West Coast and South Canterbury now eligible for voluntary bonding.

But the press release did not mention that nurses working in surgical wards can no longer sign up to the scheme for the first time since surgical nursing was added to the list of "hard-to-staff" specialties in the scheme’s second year in 2010.

The review of the scheme, published last year, noted that surgical nursing was one of the practice areas with the highest percentage of nurses (12 per cent). District health board directors of nursing did not list surgical nurses in their list of hard to recruit specialties.  Stakeholders also advised the reviewers that there was a growing need for generalist nurses in rural areas and in primary care. It was suggested that the number of nursing specialties be reduced from the current six to just primary care, aged care and mental health.

Registrations of interest for this year’s intake are open for new GP trainees, graduate doctors, nurses, midwives, radiation therapists and medical physicists until 5pm on Friday 14 March.

Bonded nurses are eligible for an annual payment of  $2,833 (after tax) if they stay in bonded service for three to five years.  The first payment is made after three years.

More information and a full list of registration forms are available at: http://www.healthworkforce.govt.nz/our-work/voluntary-bonding-scheme

For nurses, the eligible hard-to-staff specialties are now:

  • Aged Care (aged residential care and older persons’ health services).
  • Mental Health (hospital and community, including addiction services).
  • Theatre (theatre room, including recovery ward / Post - Anaesthesia Care Unit).
  • Intensive care (ICU wards, including Critical Care Units, excluding High Dependency Units).
  • Cardiothoracic (Cardiothoracic units).
  • Primary care (including practice nurses, public health nurses, well child tamariki ora nurses and district nurses)

Preference will be given to graduates who intend to work in the aged care, mental health and primary care specialties.

For nurses, the eligible hard-to-staff communities are:

  • West Coast DHB
  • South Canterbury DHB