Immigration Minister Michael Wood maintains stance on requiring migrant nurses to stay in role for two years before gaining residency

By RNZ's Checkpoint

Immigration Minister Michael Wood rejects he has only thin evidence to suggest nurses are more likely than doctors to switch jobs after gaining residence.

Under recent changes, migrant nurses are eligible for residency after two years in the country.

Doctors, though, do not have to wait at all.

Wood told Checkpoint that health data from several years ago shows nurses are about 2 percentage points more likely to leave the profession.

Wood said new settings to attract overseas nurses to NZ had been in place one week and he was waiting to see how effective they were, before considering whether nurses were added to the same fast-track to residency pathway as doctors.

"I am going to be watching it very closely and ultimately we'll be pragmatic to make sure we get the outcomes that we need in this sector."

He said it was not a unique problem to New Zealand, but a worldwide issue.

Wood said data from the health sector shows there was a "2 percentage difference on figures from a couple of years ago" that showed nurses were more likely to shift to other jobs than doctors. And he pointed out the labour market was far hotter now.

With the opening of residency visas in 2021, he said thousands of nurses would get security to stay in New Zealand. "We brought in 2300 [nurses] through critical workforce border exemptions during the Covid period."

He said NZ's system to attract nurses was significantly better than it had been in the past.