Media Releases

NZNO welcomes expansion of bonding scheme

NZNO has welcomed the expansion of the voluntary bonding scheme for nursing and other health graduates to include mental health and aged care. Minister of Health Tony Ryall this week announced that graduates wanting to join the scheme would get priority if they chose to work in either of these specialties.

NZNO mental health section member and manager of Queenstown’s community mental health team, Verona Cournane, said the Minister’s announcement was “wonderful. It will be very good for the specialty, especially for services in rural and more remote areas. It recognises the difficulties of recruiting and retaining staff in these areas,” she said.

She acknowledged many urban centres also had problems recruiting mental health staff.

“When the voluntary bonding scheme was first introduced, we were disappointed mental health nursing was not included, so we are delighted it is now,” Cournane said.

Nursing lecturer and NZNO gerontology section member, Gill Meek, is very pleased aged care is now a priority specialty under the scheme. “It is evidence the Minister recognises the difficulties the aged-care sector faces in attracting nurses. While this is one way to encourage new nurses to begin a rewarding career in nursing older people, ensuring parity of pay and conditions with nurses working in district health boards would further secure staff retention in the sector,” she said.

Four new communities have been added to midwifery hard to staff areas – Hawke’s Bay, Hutt Valley, Taranaki and Waitemata.

The voluntary bonding scheme encourages health graduates to work in hard to staff specialties and communities by offering student loan write-offs or cash incentives over three to five years. There are now 1400 nursing, midwifery and medical graduates signed up.

The Minister said because of financial constraints, only 350 graduates would be accepted onto the scheme this year. Registrations close on April 29 and those accepted will be eligible for their first payments in 2014.


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