National will introduce a "voluntary bonding" scheme offering student loan debt write-off to graduate doctors, nurses, and midwives agreeing to work in hard-to-staff communities or specialties for three to five years.
We will consult organisations such as professional colleges and universities, and the Ministry of Health, to ensure graduates in the scheme are placed where shortages are critical.
• A maximum annual write-off of around $10,000.
The amount will be set for each occupation based on the average student loan debt levels at graduation.
• The first three years of annual write-offs will be made when the professional has been in place for three full years. The remaining write-offs will be made annually.
• There will be flexibility in the scheme to allow for ongoing training and maternity leave.
• Professionals who have graduated since 2005 will be eligible for the scheme.
• The scheme will be extended to other health professional groups over time.
• The scheme will operate alongside graduates’ compulsory minimum student loan repayments. We estimate the cost of the scheme will be around $3 million in the first year of the scheme, $6 million in the second, and $9 million in the third - assuming a notional occupational mix of around 100 doctors each year bonded at an annual write-off of $10,000, and 250 nurses and midwives each year at an average annual write-off of $3,500.