NZ stares down workforce shortage – 1,000 registered nurses needed

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New Zealand is facing a similar aged care workforce crisis to Australia, with estimates that the sector is approximately 1,000 registered nurses (RNs) short of where it needs to be.

Speaking to Waatea News, NZ Aged Care Association chief executive Simon Wallace said the sector had closed down around 500 beds in the last six months, with nurses working double and triple shifts.

“This situation is getting worse by the week. We are losing dozens of nurses, either to district health boards where they can get paid more, or unfortunately, we are now starting to lose some overseas now the border is open, so it is a perfect storm in our sector,” he said.

At the annual general meeting of retirement village and aged care operator Summerset, CEO Scott Scoullar (pictured) said that, while the company had poured an additional NZ$4.3 million into either new roles or additional care wages last year, the NZ Government is underfunding the sector.

“We will not compromise our standards, but there are many operators across the sector who are looking at having to close their doors for good.

“The aged care sector across New Zealand has close to 40,000 beds, relative to public hospitals only having 14,000 beds. If action isn’t taken by the Crown to fix the underfunding for the sector, we believe this is going to have a large detrimental impact on New Zealand’s public health system,” he said.

Retirement villages account for almost 67% of all aged care beds in New Zealand, with very few new beds opening in NZ aged care homes in the past decade.