More than 1000 registered doctors and nurses waiting in New Zealand residency queue

GPs are urging the Government to urgently re-open residency for healthcare workers to avoid losing them overseas. 

There are more than 1000 registered doctors and nurses stuck in the frozen immigration queue - and Newshub has spoken to one doctor who's giving up and leaving. 

Nina Fransham's first New Zealand holiday was a Kiwi classic - travelling in a campervan, she saw how beautiful the country was and knew it would be great for children. 

She moved from the UK to Northland in December 2019. Loving it so much, she encouraged other foreign doctors to move to Northland - but her love has limits.

"Our lives just feel incredibly temporary and that's incredibly frustrating," she told Newshub. 

Fransham is stuck in the frozen residency queue for skilled migrants - unable to access KiwiSaver, healthcare or buy a house. So next week, she's reluctantly moving back to the UK. 

"No one in their sane mind would fly all the way back to the UK in the middle of a world pandemic working in the NHS."

But she's far from alone.

When COVID-19 hit last year and the borders were slammed shut, Immigration New Zealand also shut down residency applications, leaving 10,000 skilled migrants in the queue.

Immigration New Zealand figures show among them are 901 registered nurses and 235 doctors - like Fransham. They're healthcare workers New Zealand desperately needs, already in the country, working in our health system, just waiting on the Government. 

"GPs leaving the country just worsens an already difficult situation for a lot of practices," says NZ College of General Practitioners medical director Bryan Betty.

National's immigration spokesperson Erica Stanford says the situation is simply illogical.

"We've already got medical professionals here that are being treated so badly in a residents' queue that's going nowhere and they're looking to leave. And guess what we'll have to do? Replace them with more migrant doctors and nurses."

Newshub asked Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi for an interview but he declined, only saying he was working on the issue. 

After pressure, earlier this year he created a border exemption to bring in more healthcare workers.

But he's now starting to lose the ones that are already here, with jobs, because of this unnecessary immigration rigmarole.