Coronavirus: New Zealand's 'call to arms' for doctors, nurses amid COVID-19 crisis

A national call to arms has been issued as New Zealand battles to find enough healthcare workers to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

The campaign, launched by the Ministry of Health and medical recruitment company MedWorld, labels the COVID-19 outbreak "the biggest crisis of our time" and warns the demand for trained doctors and nurses will be "unprecedented".

"We need all willing and available qualified health professionals to step out of retirement, semi-retirement or extended leave and make themselves available to assist where needed," said Dr Sam Hazeldine, MedWorld founder.

"How many more doctors and nurses do we need? More, as many as we can find, and fast."

The search is on for health workers to fill staffing gaps in coronavirus clinics opening across New Zealand, as well as back-filling vacant roles in hospitals throughout the country so non-coronavirus healthcare demands are met.

The Ministry of Health is utilising MedWorld's recruitment expertise to gather enough new doctors and nurses to plug gaps across New Zealand's health system, which is already stretched.

"The coming months are going to be extremely challenging and demanding on our already under-staffed and pressured health system, especially with normal winter illness and its flow-on demand to come," Dr Hazeldine said.

"We need to be ready for an emergency situation and build the army before we go into battle, not once the attack is upon us."

Dr Hazeldine is urging other companies to use whatever expertise and resources they can to  assist in the fight against COVID-19.

"The Government and health ministry are doing an excellent job in an extremely challenging situation, but need extra support from companies like ours which have the infrastructure and experience to make a difference."