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Mental health comes up short

Mental health comes up short

Green MP Sue Bradford said she is concerned an audit of District Health Board mental health services laid blame for failing services on staff shortages when it found they were not delivering services to their contracted obligations.

The Green Party Mental Health spokesperson said problems with attracting and keeping staff lay in poor pay rates compared to other essential services.

Ms Bradford points out the salary disparity between frontline police, who can expect more than $40,000 a year when they start, and frontline mental health workers, who start on $28,000, must be addressed.

"Why is there such a difference between police and mental health, when a mental health worker trains for a significantly longer period and, more often than not, is dealing with the same people as police would face in violent or disturbing situations," said Ms Bradford.

"To dismiss the problems as due to staff shortages is a whitewash. There is an obvious need to attract and keep quality staff through better pay and conditions across the board."

"I view the situation with deep concern that DHBs appear to be withholding money to mental health and not delivering services to their contracted obligations, considering the dire straits in which the sector finds itself continually," said Ms Bradford.

Ms Bradford expressed concern that NGO services were not given compensation for population growth and cost increases, when DHB funding reflected these changes.

"I know that these groups are having a very hard time trying to deliver their services, and this just makes it harder. It is sheer madness that they miss out, while the DHBs hoard their funding and blame a lack of staff for their inactivity.

"The money should be spent in two ways: one is to adequately fund the NGOs who provide around 23 per cent of mental health services these days, and the other should be to pay the staff properly and in a way that attracts and keeps quality people on the job and in New Zealand."

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