Election 2023: National announces bonding plan to incentivise nurses, midwives to stay in New Zealand

The National Party says it will incentivise more Kiwis to study nursing or midwifery in return for bonding them to work in New Zealand for the first five years of their career. 

In an announcement on Sunday, leader Christopher Luxon said New Zealand doesn't train enough nurses or midwives to address the shortage the country is currently facing and many qualified people are "aggressively recruited" to move overseas.

He said in the past five years under Labour, almost 19,000 nurses have left the public health system.

"Nurses and midwives are doing their best, but they have been badly failed by a Government that has not prioritised investing in the frontline," Luxon said in a statement.

"Instead of urgently addressing the workforce crisis, Labour has restructured the bureaucracy, while hard-working and dedicated health professionals have struggled with the weight of a faltering system."

Luxon said that under National, they will pay nurses' and midwives' student loan repayments up to $4500 a year for the first five years of their career. This adds up to $22,500 and increases their take-home pay by $87 a week.

To access the scheme, nurses and midwives will need to enter into a bonding agreement with the Government, where they commit to working in New Zealand for at least five years after they graduate. This will also be open to registered nurses and midwives already in the workforce who have graduated within the last five years, on a pro-rata basis.

"National will also make New Zealand more competitive in the global competition for skilled workers, by allowing qualified overseas nurses and midwives to come here on a six-month temporary visa without a job offer to look for work and to bring their immediate family members with them," Luxon said.

"We will also establish a relocation support scheme, offering up to 1000 qualified overseas nurses and midwives relocation grants worth up to $10,000 each to support their move to New Zealand."

Luxon added that nurses and midwives are at the frontline of New Zealand's "collapsing" health system and are bearing the brunt of the shortage.

"Having to work long shifts without enough staff is driving stress, anxiety and burn-out. Something needs to urgently change," he said.

"Labour has overseen a crisis in the health workforce. National will deliver more nurses and midwives so our hard-working frontline feel supported, and Kiwis can access the health care they deserve."