Rapid response Covid-19 teams grapple with shortage of nurses

Posted 6 January 2022 by Moana Ellis

A leader of an intensive effort to boost Māori Covid-19 vaccinations says nurses are in short supply and it’s time to look at training more Māori.

Ngāti Rangi iwi entity Ngā Waihua o Paerangi Trust sets up its rapid response mobile clinic in Ohakune.

Ngāti Rangi iwi entity Ngā Waihua o Paerangi Trust sets up its rapid response mobile clinic in Ohakune. Photo: Supplied / Te Ranga Tupua

Four Māori health providers are sending out mobile clinics in the Waimarino, Rangitīkei, Whanganui and South Taranaki regions as part of the Ranga Tupua iwi collective’s rapid response vaccination rollout.

But Te Ranga Tupua operations co-lead Elijah Pue says recruiting the number of registered nurses needed as vaccinators for the 15-week mobile clinic initiative and beyond is proving tough.

The Ngāti Rangi iwi entity Ngā Waihua o Paerangi Trust is advertising for registered nurses to deliver vaccinations from the mobile clinic in the Waimarino area, which includes some of the least vaccinated communities in the country. The iwi trust has permanent and fixed-term, fulltime and casual roles available, starting immediately, and is offering $45 an hour.

“Across the motu and here at home in the wider Whanganui rohe we’re having real issues trying to recruit clinicians,” Pue said.

“Everyone – the DHB, Māori health providers and others – are all looking for nurses to support the Covid vaccination rollout. It is proving to be challenging at the moment.

“It’s time for us to think seriously about how we’re upskilling our people and supporting them to do that, and also supporting them to come home and share their skills, experience and qualifications with our people.”

Pue said targeted iwi nursing scholarships could help build the numbers of qualified clinicians needed in the regions and rural areas.

But he said any investment should be teamed with alumni programmes that encourage graduates to bring their skills home to give back to their marae, hapū and iwi.

“A lot of people are struggling with connecting with their iwi. The challenge for us is that reconnection and what’s that point for them to start coming home?” Pue said.

“How do we help people understand what it means to receive a scholarship – what’s their give-back? How can the wider iwi benefit from that level of investment?”

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