Looking at retired medical staff to bolster forces

Hilary Graham-Smith. Photo: RNZ Insight / Karen Brown

Health officials are looking at options to bolster the workforce in the face of Covid-19, including bringing in recently-retired doctors and nurses.

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield says planning is already well underway in case extra staff are needed across the health system.

That includes talking to both the Medical Council and the Nursing Council about ways to speed up the re-certification process, to allow recently-retired doctors and nurses to get back on the job, if they were required down the track.

The Nurses Organisation says it’s a sensible idea.

Associate Professional Services Manager Hilary Graham-Smith says they will be well-equipped to help, given their recent clinical experience.

She says forward-planning is important, especially as winter approaches.

"If Covid-19 collides with the flu season, then we are going to see a system under significant pressure and staffing will be an issue."

However, she says the health system is not yet at a crisis point.

More staff are already being recruited as Healthline continued to experience high demand.

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