Three hundred spots a month with be guaranteed for health and disability sector workers under changes to the nation’s managed isolation system.
“Our world-class workforce is vital in rebuilding the health system and dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic,” COVID Response Minister, Andrew Little said.
“Whether it’s bringing doctors or nurses in from other places or New Zealanders bringing their skills home, we need to be able to get them into the country and into the workforce.”
Currently, healthcare and disability workers deemed critical to the country are eligible for MIQ rooms set aside for people with “time-sensitive” travel.
“But they are competing with others who are also in this category, and that’s making it harder for our health services to get some of the people they need,” Minister Little said.
“Health managers need to be able to bring the people they need into the country and know that they can get them places in MIQ.
“We have already brought in thousands of health workers, but lately employers have been telling me that it’s getting harder to secure places, so we’re sorting that out.
“Under the changes I am announcing today, the Ministry of Health will have priority access to 300 MIQ rooms a month and will work with District Health Boards and Primary Health Organisations to allocate them to the people we need to get here the fastest.”
Health and disability workers who are not citizens or permanent residents will still need proof of a job in New Zealand and must meet immigration requirements, he said.
The new system comes into effect on November 1, with the first rooms allocated in late November.
Health and disability workers critical to the health system will still be eligible for emergency allocations if needed, and any existing bookings for healthcare workers will stand, the Minister said.