Brexit may see Kiwi health system flush with UK workers

There's evidence the United Kingdom's recent vote to exit the European Union could be a win for the New Zealand health system.

Immigration officials and recruitment agencies say they have been inundated by huge numbers of health workers keen to leave the UK. Source: 1 NEWS

Medical recruitment agencies and immigration officials say there's been a huge upswing in interest and registrations from British doctors, nurses, and allied health staff keen to emigrate and work here as a direct result of Brexit.

Immigration NZ said its website received an average of 5500 visits per day after the referendum vote a fortnight ago, compared to the usual daily average of just over 2000 visits. Registrations (seen as a more definite commitment for would-be migrants) are even higher.

"We've seen a four times increase in registrations for all occupations which is significant and in some sectors such as health that increase has been about five times higher," Matt Hoskin from Immigration New Zealand said.

I have a large amount of experience, so I feel I can be a great asset to any department or clinic in New Zealand - Sonographer Helen Foy of Southampton

Figures show 57 British health workers registered an interest in emigrating or working in New Zealand's health system the weekend before the Brexit vote, and the weekend after Brexit the number leapt to 225 registrations.

Medical Recruitment Agency owner Prudence Thomson said her staff have been flat out trying to deal with a 30 per cent higher volume of prospective UK health workers all keen to make the move.

"‘They're saying there's too much uncertainty in the UK right now and that they want a work life and home life that's comfortable for them, and they see New Zealand as a safe-haven," she said.

She said the United Kingdom's loss could well be New Zealand's gain in filling key health vacancies in hard-to-staff rural areas and positions.

Surgery Source: 1 NEWS

"Probably one third are doctors, consultants, and GPs with a lot of radiology staff, nurses, and allied health as well," she added.

Helen Foy from Southampton is one such worker keen to make the shift as soon as possible with her husband John and son James.

A highly qualified sonographer (ultrasound technician), Mrs Foy's skills would be welcome in Kiwi hospitals due to a current skills shortage.

"I have a large amount of experience, so I feel I can be a great asset to any department or clinic in New Zealand," she said.

The Foy family said Brexit was the final straw.

"It appears nobody's really prepared what to do next," Mr Foy said.

"There's no plan B and it's been a shock."

"The UK’s ended up in a bit of a shambles," Mrs Foy added.

The couple said they don't mind where they settle once in New Zealand and are happy to go where the work is.