The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners is today praising a change by the Government that will allow overseas-trained doctors to work in New Zealand more easily.
On Saturday, Immigration New Zealand removed the visa exemption expiry date for critical health care workers (like GPs) to get into the country. That means there are now fewer barriers to welcoming highly trained specialists into the New Zealand GP workforce.
College President Dr Samantha Murton (pictured right) said, "This is a major win for our GP clinics across New Zealand who are struggling to recruit enough doctors.
"Now with greater certainty at the border, general practices can attract overseas-trained doctors - and get them here, meaning more patients seen by a doctor and releasing some of the tension on other struggling GPs.
"It essentially means now that we can have a funnel of overseas-trained doctors entering New Zealand and that’s a great thing, particularly for our underserved rural communities," she says.
About 40 percent of all New Zealand’s doctors are trained overseas. Until Saturday there was a deadline for entry into the country, which made the job of recruiting GPs more difficult because of the short time frame. These restrictions are now eased.
"Removing the expiry date provides much more certainty to employers, and to the doctors planning to move here, making New Zealand more attractive to international health care despite the border closure," says Dr Murton.
The College has actively lobbied for this change because our members are experiencing high levels of burnout and part of the solution to that is getting trained doctors into the country to share the workload.