Budget 2024: Disappointment over broken promise to fund more mental health specialists

Psychiatrists are disappointed the National-led Government has not honoured its pre-election promise to allocate money in the Budget for training more mental health specialists.

Prior to coming to power, the National Party committed to funding 13 additional psychiatry registrar places.

The New Zealand chair of the Royal Australia New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, Dr Hiran Thabrew, said its members were questioning “when and how those places will be funded”.

Despite Mental Health Minister Matt Doocey having previously acknowledged growing workforce vacancies and skyrocketing rates of mental distress across New Zealand, “his words had not been backed by action in the Coalition government’s first budget”, he said.

“Every day, people experiencing serious mental health or addiction issues are falling through the cracks.

“From an economic perspective, it’s short-sighted. When mental health care is delayed, or absent, it increases the chances of a condition getting worse, becoming harder to treat, and taking longer to recover.

“It creates a cycle of crisis-driven care that ultimately costs more over time.”

Mental Health Minister Matt Doocey told RNZ the government remained committed to growing the mental health and addiction workforce, “including the stated focus on psychiatrists and psychologists”.

“Earlier this year I tasked Health New Zealand with developing a Mental Health and Addiction workforce plan including this focus, and this work is underway.

“We will be able to share more information about this in due course.”

The Budget includes:

  • $9.72 million for a national Mental Health and Addiction Community Sector Innovation Fund
  • $8.5 million pledged over four years to increase medical school funding cap
  • $1.09 billion pledged from 2024-28 to Whaikaha – Ministry of Disability for disability support services.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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