Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says the number of registered nurses working in mental health and addictions services has increased at a higher rate for than other areas of nursing.
“It’s important people can access the appropriate mental health and addiction services that they need,” says Dr Coleman.
“We’ve increased mental health and addiction services funding from $1.1 billion in 2008/09 to over $1.4 billion for 2015/16. But there’s always more we can do and the Government continues to work on improving mental health services. Having a dedicated workforce is an important part of our wider plan.
“New data from Health Workforce New Zealand shows the number of registered nurses working in mental health and addictions services has increased at a higher rate than for any other area of nursing from 2011 to 2016, increasing from 3,583 to 4,206.
“Over that period the number of registered nurses in addiction services has increased 23 per cent; community mental health has increased 22 per cent, and hospital based mental health services have increased 12 per cent.
“We are also seeing a better reflection of the make-up of our population in our mental health and addictions nursing workforce. Evidence suggests that matching the demographic of the workforce to the population improves health outcomes and access to services.
“This year 19 per cent of the new graduates employed in mental health and addictions identify as Māori, 15 per cent as Pacific and 48 per cent as European.
“Data from the national recruitment system that matches graduate nurses to jobs tells us that mental health is consistently in the top three preferences for new graduates.”
Dr Coleman says the Government remains committed to actions designed to ensure we have a well trained workforce.
“The well-established Voluntary Bonding Scheme encourages health practitioners to practise in specialties and regions that are traditionally difficult to staff.
“Since 2011, when Mental Health and Addictions was added to the Scheme for registered nurses, 584 (nearly a third of the 1,846 nurses who registered for the Scheme) have joined under this category.
“In addition to this, through the Nurse Entry to Specialty Practice programme, this year’s mental health and addictions programme will see 155 graduate nurses working in this area gain specialty knowledge with a postgraduate certificate.”
The recently published Mental Health and Addiction Workforce Action Plan confirms the Ministry's commitment to developing a capable and motivated workforce. The plan is available on the Ministry of Health website, www.health.govt.nz.