The voluntary bonding scheme

’s voluntary bonding scheme was made public yesterday, with this fact sheet. Key details for the health sector are:

  • Open to any doctor, nurse or midwive who has graduated since 2005
  • Doctors have to work in a hard to staff area for two years and then commit to a hard to staff speciality (which may move them to a different area)
  • Nurses need to work in a hard to staff speciality while midwives in a hard to staff location.
  • Hard to staff areas for Doctors are Southland, West Coast, Whanganui, Northland, Wairarapa, Lakes DHB, Tairawhiti DHB, Wairau Hospital, Whakatane Hospital and Thames Hospital
  • Hard to staff specialities for doctors are GP, General Surgeon, Internal Medicine, Psychiatry and Pathology and for nurses are Theatre, Intensive Care and Cardiothoracic
  • Doctors will get $15,873 gross or $10,000 net a year. Midwives $3,500 net and Nurses $2,833 net.

The NZ Herald editorial praises the scheme:

The use of voluntary bonding in many countries bears testimony to its effectiveness. It is timely that the Government has introduced a comprehensive scheme here, not just for doctors as it promised before the election, but also for nurses, midwives, teachers and veterinarians. …

During the latest junior doctors’ dispute, bonding was often mentioned as a means of stopping the drift to Australia. The National Party made it part of its election manifesto. Commendably, it has enacted its proposal quickly, adding cash incentives for those who do not need student loan writeoffs. Some may quibble at these extra payments but they are, in reality, compensation for compromised career paths. As such, the Government scheme should go some way to solving the country’s medical and educational staffing woes. Whether it is tailored sufficiently well to have the maximum impact is another matter.

It will be interesting to monitor how many people take it up

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