After seven months, Jane Murphy, a nurse with about 40 years of experience, is on the verge of giving up on getting her registration to work in New Zealand.
Murphy is on the West Coast of the South Island where she says they are “gagging” for nurses, but her skills and experience cannot be put to use.
The nurse from the United Kingdom is pleading with the Nursing Council of New Zealand to find a better, faster way to process registration applications.
“I’ve got skills I need to use. It’s hard because I’ve still got a lot of nursing to do,” Murphy said.
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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.
Nurses pay $300 USD to CGFNS to apply.
Murphy began the process in June but had trouble with the company’s website and contacting the agency.
“They’ve asked me to print a form for every school, every nursing education, every employer and send it to them and get a reference. We’re talking about 15 forms here. I thought that’s what I just paid $300 USD for,” Murphy said.
When asked about making a switch to receiving documents electronically last year, then CGFNS co-chief executive Mukul Bakhshi said they were looking to expand those efforts in 2023.
Murphy said she spoke to a CGFNS staff member last week about the issues she was having with the website.
“She said it was weird and that several people had rung with this problem and there could be a problem with the computer system.”
CGFNS president and chief executive Peter Preziosi said the applicant portal website “was accessible and operating 99.98% of the time.”
Murphy’s husband died suddenly five years ago. She decided she wanted a change, so she packed up her life in Colchester, near London, and moved to Little Wanganui, a remote village near Karamea on the West Coast in November.
She has worked in Australia and has an Australian passport, so she can automatically work in New Zealand. Apart from some health care work, she is living off her savings.
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“I’m happy to do whatever anybody wants me to do, I’ve got a lot of nursing experience, I can put my hand to anything. I just need my registration to enable it,” Murphy said.
In the UK, she worked as a matron (a senior nurse) covering anesthetics, theaters, critical care and more.
There are currently 62 full-time nursing vacancies across the West Coast including aged care, primary care, ED, mental health and inpatient services, Te Whatu Ora General Manager for West Coast Philip Wheble said.
Te Whatu Ora is currently running a global campaign for nurses to work in New Zealand.
Nursing Council chief executive Catherine Byrne said they were implementing “significant changes” to the assessment of competence of internationally qualified nurses.
“These changes will take time to implement and therefore early 2024 is a realistic time frame.”
The council is also reviewing the requirements for source document checking.
“It is likely that these changes will lead to more efficient pathways for internationally qualified nurses seeking registration in New Zealand.”
Asked whether they would continue to use CGFNS to verify and authenticate the documents required for registration, Byrne said they would continue to but would review the arrangement periodically.
“The expertise held by CGFNS is important to ensure the process is robust and safe. Many delays at the present are a result of the availability of source documents from the registering authorities and the education providers. These documents are critical to the safe registration of internationally educated nurses,” Byrne said.
Preziosi said on average it took between four and six months for the completion of source document checking.
“Since May 2022, we have quadrupled our international credential reviewer staff from four to 16 to respond to the unprecedented pent-up post-covid demand and to process applications more efficiently,” Preziosi said.
The average timeframe for an internationally qualified nurse to get registered, get a job, and apply for a visa is nine monthsPrudence Thomson said.
But Murphy wondered how many international nurses tried to get registration in New Zealand and gave up during the CGFNS process.
Welsh nurses Roya Valivand and Abigail Jones gave up after waiting eight months for the registration approval and instead worked in hospitality.
“I’m quite a proactive person, and it’s very rarely I give up, but this has probably been one of the most frustrating things I’ve dealt with,” Murphy said.