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Shortage Of Psychiatrists Potentially Disastrous

Media Release
23 January 2004

Shortage Of Psychiatrists Potentially Disastrous

The Mental Health Foundation’s revelation of a national shortage of psychiatrists is another example of the Government’s failing health system, said New Zealand First’s health spokesperson, Barbara Stewart.

“Following the news that Capital Coast Health is $5 million in the red after six months of the financial year, out of an annual operating budget of $468 million and the exodus of young doctors to Australia, we now learn that by international standards we are short of 118 psychiatrists,” said Mrs Stewart.

“The World Health Organisation recommends a ratio of one psychiatrist per 10,000 and we have a ratio of approximately one per 14,000.

“Even more alarming because of its potential for disaster is the fact that the WHO recommends a ratio of one child and adolescent psychiatrist per 50,000 of population but we have a ratio of one per 156,000. In practical terms this means that many of the children who need psychiatric help in this country will never receive it.

“A CYF study last year estimated that 20 percent of the young people involved with the department had a serious mental health problem. Add to that juvenile drug users and children and adolescents suffering from mental illnesses such as depression and there are obviously going to be huge numbers who remain untreated.

“The potential effects of such neglect should be alarming the Minister and the Government. This is further evidence of the Government’s under-resourced and failing health system,” said Mrs Stewart.


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