Immigration Minister Michael Wood acknowledges result of $514k health worker recruitment campaign 'not high enough', but it will build

  • 10/03/2023

The Immigration Minister expects more foreign health workers will eventually interview for jobs as the result of a new recruitment campaign.

Michael Wood acknowledged on AM on Friday morning that having just three foreign health workers interview for roles following an advertising campaign which has cost at least half a million dollars is "not high enough". 

Newshub revealed on Thursday night that more than $514,000 has been spent on a recruitment campaign to attract health workers to New Zealand as the sector struggles with staffing shortages. Starting in November, adverts were run across multiple social media platforms, promoting Aotearoa's natural beauty and outdoor activities.

As of January 27, 668 people had expressed interest as a result of the campaign and 44 candidates were then referred on to Te Whatu Ora/Health NZ's recruitment team. But only three have been interviewed. It's unclear if anyone has been employed as a result of the campaign. 

Appearing on AM on Friday morning, Immigration Minister Wood said there is a job to be done in attracting health workers to New Zealand. 

"This was a campaign that was stood up I think in November of last year, peaked in about January of this year. The numbers at this stage are not high and they need to be high to justify that expenditure. But we expect that to be the case."

He said the programme encourages those interested to "sort out their professional registration before they move to the next stage". 

"It generally takes some months to do that. So three at this stage is not high enough, that needs to be higher, but we expect it to build as people engage in the programme more."

Health Minister Ayesha Verrall on Thursday said work to get more health staff in the country takes time.

"Indeed, we are making multiple efforts in terms of recruitment and it might take time for those to bear fruit."

She said that it can take nine months to two years to recruit from overseas.

Royal New Zealand College of GPs medical director Dr Bryan Betty told Newshub that the campaign's result so far is "really disappointing" and "questions have to be asked".

NZ Nurses Organisation kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku said: "It's had very little outcome. It's a significant amount of money".

Newshub reported that in the six months to February 10, 219 nurses applied under the Green List, but just one has arrived here. There have been 624 nurses arrive here under other visa categories, but about half require training.