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InternationalApr 12, 2023

New Zealand changes stance and opens up work opportunities to physios from the UK and Ireland

Physiotherapists based in the UK and Ireland whose ambitions to practise in New Zealand have been stymied in recent years have a good reason to celebrate this week.

Along with Physiotherapy New Zealand (PNZ) – which plays a similar role to the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) in the UK – they will welcome an announcement that physiotherapists have been placed on the country’s immigration Green List.

Describing the announcement as a ‘long-awaited revision’ of the legislation that would improve New Zealanders’ access to ‘critical healthcare’, PNZ said the change would make it easier for employers to hire and attract overseas professionals.

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Auckland awaits: will New Zealand's capital city soon see an influx of physios from the UK?

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'Desperate shortages'

 

We have been desperately short of physios for some time, and their workloads have been growing. They are seeing more and more patients as a result of injuries, treatment to prevent falls, and children with disabilities [Mark Quinn, PNZ]

Speaking today (12 April), PNZ president Mark Quinn claimed it was ‘absurd’ that physiotherapy profession had remained on a skills shortage list for many years, but had not been included in the immigration changes announced in May 2022. As a result, both the public and private sectors had suffered during a period in which vacancy rates were high.

‘Yesterday’s announcement, coupled with recent changes to registration announced by the Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand, should help us recruit physiotherapists from the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada and South Africa.’

Mr Quinn added: ‘It came as a complete shock that physiotherapists had been left off the original list, recognising we don’t train enough physiotherapists in New Zealand to meet demand. International borders opened last year, and we have a number of New Zealand physios who have headed overseas. We need to attract physiotherapists to New Zealand.

‘We have been desperately short of physios for some time, and their workloads have been growing. They are seeing more and more patients as a result of injuries, treatment to prevent falls, and children with disabilities.

‘This is also about cost effectiveness. There is so much evidence that treatments by physiotherapists keep New Zealanders healthier and more active.’

'Competitive offer'

Physiotherapy is one of the 32 new health sector roles that the New Zealand government has opened up to its ‘Straight to Residence’ pathway on the Green List to help prepare the health system for the coming winter.

Immigration minister Michael Wood said: ‘The world is currently facing a global health worker shortage, so it is vital that New Zealand’s immigration settings present a competitive offer to attract health workers to our shores.'

Mr Wood added: ‘We need more qualified people to help us deliver on our record health investments and help improve access to good healthcare in New Zealand.

‘We’ve listened to the health sector and these changes ensure that immigration settings are as helpful and competitive as possible,’ Mr Wood added.

In a tweet, CSP director Rob Yeldham noted: ‘New Zealand adds physios to their shortage occupation list – more evidence of the global shortage of physios.’

Author: Ian A McMillan
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