Workforce shortages continue to hurt mental health

Workforce shortages continue to hurt our most vulnerable as vacancy rates in the mental health sector continue to rise, National’s Mental Health and Suicide Prevention spokesperson Matt Doocey says.

“Labour promised to transform New Zealand’s mental health sector yet, in the five years since they have been in office, vacancies in psychiatry, nursing and psychology have steadily increased.

“The latest data shows that there are 114 psychologist vacancies, 119 psychiatrist vacancies and over 400 mental health nurse vacancies in the country. This is a significant number of people not providing the essential services to Kiwis in need.

“What’s worse is that since 2017, psychiatrist and mental health nurse vacancies have increased by over 50 per cent, and psychologist vacancies by a shocking 140 per cent.

“The biggest contributor to why Kiwis are not getting timely access to treatments is the mental health workforce shortages, but the Government is failing to address to problem.

“Despite pouring $1.9 billion into mental health, all we have seen is a reduced access to services, a worsening state of our mental health facilities and an increase in people needing treatment. It is the same story with this Labour Government: more money, but worse outcomes.

“The Mental Health Commission called for strong leadership and a well-managed plan to execute change, but sadly, these figures show that Labour is incapable of doing this as things only continue to get worse.

“There must be more accountability when it comes to our fragile mental health sector. This Government is great at making announcements but utterly incapable of delivering improved outcomes. New Zealand deserves better.”