Welsh nurses Abigail Jones, left, and Roya Valivand were told it would be easy to get a job nursing in New Zealand.
Welsh nurses Roya Valivand and Abigail Jones heard extreme staffing shortages would make it easy to get nursing jobs in New Zealand, but after waiting eight months for the approval needed to gain registration, they have given up.
Valivand and Jones, both 24, made the first step to register to practice nursing in New Zealand in March, hoping to work in an Auckland hospital before they started their travels around the country.
The pair have worked in an emergency department (ED) in Cardiff, Wales for the past three years and decided they would like to see what nursing was like abroad.
They arrived as planned in September but having still not heard back about their applications, they are unable to work.
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International qualified nurses wanting to practice in New Zealand must first apply to the Nursing Council of New Zealand’s credentials verification service at CGFNS, an international organization that verifies the documents the council requires.
In October, Jones finally had her application with CGFNS approved, but Valivand’s is still ‘pending’.
“It’s bonkers, we were so eager to come out here and mainly wanted to work in [ED] and see what the differences were compared to back home,” Valivand said.
The pair have spent more than two months traveling around the country in the hope that they would soon be able to work.
“It’s just frustrating, even now months into our traveling we still can’t work. It’s put a spanner in the works,” Valivand said.
NZ Nurses Organisation’s Sarah Barker says staff shortages, amid Covid-19, could put patients at risk. (First published in December 2021)
On its website, CGFNS says once all documents that the Nursing Council requires have been submitted, it will take “approximately 30 days” for the documents to be verified.
“The applicant then has a further 30 days to confirm their verification report before their application is transmitted to the Nursing Council,” it says.
While they were waiting, Valivand and Jones contacted New Zealand nursing agencies to gauge how easy it would be to get work.
“All of the agencies we contacted either didn’t reply or said they only wanted people to work if they could commit to a six-month period but that didn’t really suit us,” Valivand said.
“Back home we could join agencies and you can pick up shifts in any hospital. We assumed it would be the same here, but obviously it isn’t.”
Valivand said they have been unable to contact CGFNS to ask about the status of her application due to contact details being “sparse.”
“It’s really disappointing for us coming all the way to New Zealand with the hope of achieving this goal and not being able to due to an evident fault in the system,” she said.
“The nursing profession is in a dire state on a worldwide level. The main reason behind this being dangerously low staffing levels. It is difficult to improve this when the process of getting on the nursing register is so difficult,” she said.
Nursing Council chief executive Catherine Byrne said since January the council has received “record volumes” of applications from international nurses. It has also registered record numbers, more than 3000 this year to date.
“However, while a nurse may have nursing registration with the Nursing Council, this does not mean that they have also gained employment,” she said.
Byrne said the council is aware that the time taken to generate a verification report varies.
“[It] largely depends on how quickly the nurse applicant works through their application with CGFNS, as well as the time taken for sources (ie other nursing regulators) to provide CGFNS with the required documents.”
In September the Nursing Council announced future changes to the registration processes, to be implemented from the beginning of 2024.
After eight months and “wasted time and money” waiting for the application process, Valivand and Jones have given up and will instead get some bar work in Queenstown after their travels. They were feeling disheartened, Valivand said.
CGFNS could not be reached for comment on Monday.
In August with 3300 nursing roles vacant nationwide, the Government announced it would ease the registration process for overseas nurses, provide up to $10,000 in financial support for registration costs, and set up an immigration support service.