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Mental Health Workforce Plan Released

Health Minister Annette King says continuous development of the mental health workforce is a key priority for the Government.

Mrs King was commenting on the release by the Health Funding Authority of Tuutahitia te wero, Meeting the Challenges, a five-year mental health workforce development plan.

"In the Budget this year the Labour-Alliance Government confirmed it would spend $257.4 million more over the next four years as it implemented the Mental Health Commission's blueprint for mental health services.

"But, as I said then, it will take up to 10 years to implement the blueprint completely because the mental health workforce has to be rebuilt to allow it to happen.

"The HFA's development plan makes it clear just how much work has to be done in rebuilding. We will be putting in $17 million in the first year to develop the plan, and a similar amount will be needed for each year of the plan. An important element of the training will be the development of a Maori mental health workforce."

Mrs King said the 1998 blueprint for mental health services had identified workforce gaps and the type of workforce that would be needed.

"Of course, it's not only in the mental health sector that there are serious workforce issues. The trouble is that through the 1990s no serious workforce planning was done. Instead there was a ridiculous notion that the market would dictate the size of the workforce needed.

'The establishment of the powerful and independent Health Workforce Advisory Committee, which will occur later this year, will signal the beginning of long-term workforce planning in earnest. But this plan marks a strong start."

For more information, contact John Harvey (04) 471 9305. Copies of the document are available from the Wendy Keir at the Health Funding Authority Christchurch office on (03) 372 3035, via email wendy.keir@hfa.govt.nz or on the HFA website www.hfa.govt.nz

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