Statement from mental health spokesperson Ingrid Leary

“The Government needs to provide leadership for New Zealand’s mental health sector, which appears to have lost out in the Budget despite the promises Minister for Mental Health Matt Doocey made on the campaign trail,” said Labour mental health spokesperson Ingrid Leary.

"The National Party's election manifesto included a commitment to increasing the number of psychiatric registrar places to 50 a year, up from 37. Minister Doocey has been exceptionally silent on his progress in this area. Despite these promises, mental health was not a priority in this Budget.

"The Minister has had six months to develop a workforce plan and create a targeted recruitment campaign to attract specialist mental health workers, but cuts to services and the hiring freeze at Te Whatu Ora will have made this difficult.

"It’s not surprising our mental health workforce – and those we hope to attract from overseas - are being enticed to Australia, with offers of better pay and better working conditions. New Zealand’s workforce shortages should be addressed with urgency by the Minister.

"Minister Doocey barely acquired enough Budget funding to keep the lights on for mental health, let alone meaningful investment for New Zealanders with mental illness,” Ingrid Leary said.

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