Tova O'Brien: I'm not sure Shortland Street is the answer to our nursing shortage


Nurses, if you want to find a way of searching for another world. It’s hard to see. 

It’s definitely hard to see a way for you to find a way here to New Zealand to help us fill our nursing shortage. 

Gobsmacking really that the Health Minister yesterday ignored all the calls from the health sector to add nurses to the fast-track residency green list when announcing his plans to address the nursing shortage. 

Great that they’re looking at funding for training - brilliant - we’ve been calling for that for months too but come on guys there’s some real obvious low-hanging fruit here.

The Government’s now making headlines, co-opting fave primetime drama Shortland Street to try to attract nurses here instead of doing what nurses and the healthcare sector actually want.

Just put them on the bloody priority green list. 

The comedy of errors is now firmly a soap operatic drama - or in our real-life emergency departments, a true tragedy. 

Yesterday, on our show, we brought you news of how many nurses were allured by our big immigration reset - the new green list residency for our most sought-after professions to fill NZ’s workforce gap. 

Nurses, of course, are unfortunately on the second tier list - placed behind, not as worthy or apparently needed, as their doctor or surgeon colleagues.

Nine is the magic number.

Nine nurses - some of them will already be living and working here - but nine migrant nurses have applied for work to residency in New Zealand under the reset. 

We also revealed to you the bigger number - how many applications there had been in total under the new green list since it opened a month ago. 

And think of this as the Miss Universe Pageant of global workforce shortages. 

Think of this as the competition for how hot our country looks in a workforce bikini, pledging world peace, good wages and competitive conditions worthy of a unionised tiara.

The number we revealed yesterday on our show, the number of the world’s best and brightest from the 85 most sought-after professions in the universe. How many want to come here…?  


166 applications. 

Now what I didn’t know yesterday and couldn’t quite clock - though the number did seem so low to me, it seemed real bad - but what I didn’t know was how that number compared to what was supposed to happen. 

I’d scratched around but in none of the Government’s PRs, statements or fuss around the immigration reset did they ever say how many of these highly skilled migrants they expected to entice with this glorious new residency proposition through the green list. 

Perhaps 166 was actually what we were aiming for in the first month. Perhaps I was being unfair. 

Thankfully after a robust tete-a-tete at the select committee, National’s Immigration Spokeswoman Erica Stanford did ask what the forecasts are. How many highly skilled migrants were expected through the green list? 

42,700 in the first year. 42,700.

Applications opened a month ago. 

We’ve had 166 applications. 166 highly skilled doctors, engineers, ICT specialists etc want to come here. 166.

Based on the government’s own forecasts 42,700 in the first year - back of the envelope - every month that number should be 3500.

3500 highly skilled migrants should be successfully applying to move here each month. 

We’ve had 166. 

Nine of them were nurses. 

Remember our nursing shortage - at least 4000.