Health industry experts worried National's plan to keep nurses, midwives in New Zealand won't go far enough

Health industry experts are worried the National Party's plan to try and keep newly qualified nurses and midwives in the country won't go far enough.

Earlier on Sunday, leader Christopher Luxon announced the policy which includes pitching in towards graduates' student loan repayments and attracting overseas workers back to New Zealand.

It comes after what's been described as an exodus of workers who have headed to Australia.

One urgent care clinic in east Auckland is operating with 30 percent fewer nurses than normal.

"It's extremely common to see and if you'd asked me that five years ago, I would never have seen that," said Dr Alistair Sullivan, Tāmaki Health Urgent Care director.

He's noticed the exodus of workers who are being lured to Australia.

"They're already advertising and marketing directly to our nurses and our junior doctors. The salary rates that they're offering, including sign-on bonuses, are enormous."

Luxon said he wants to make studying nursing and midwifery in New Zealand much more attractive.

Under his party's scheme, National will pay up to $4500 a year towards the student loans of newly qualified midwives and nurses. The policy applies to the first five years of their careers and would save them $22,500 during that time. It also increases their take-home pay by $87 a week.

In return, nurses and midwives would be bonded to working in New Zealand for at least five years. 

The Nurses Organisation said while it welcomes any financial support, National's policy won't have the desired outcome. 

"We're graduating students and we're putting them in some of the lowest-paid jobs or in some of the most hostile, toxic environments," said New Zealand Nurses Organisation kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku.

Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall panned National's plan.

"The most effective thing we can do to keep health professionals in New Zealand is pay them better. That's what this Government has done," she said. 

"National's announcement doesn't come anywhere near the increases we've given them in pay."

National's also proposing a relocation scheme by offering up to 1000 qualified overseas nurses and midwives grants of up to $10,000 each to support their move to New Zealand.

One nurse from New Zealand, who didn't want to be named, recently moved to Australia.

"I get my accommodation paid for here, I get a lot of my meals paid for here, so I think it's still a lot better in Australia," she said.

She doesn't regret her decision to move.

"I'm earning three to four times the amount I'd be earning at home."

It's a hard figure to compete with but one National's trying to whittle down.