Six hundred psychologists employed by District Health Boards have begun a four-week partial strike today.1
From 0800 this morning psychologists employed by sixteen District Health Boards (DHBs) and members of APEX – the union for health professionals, stopped accepting allocations of new patients onto their caseload and will stop participating in group work with patients.
The strike will continue until Tuesday 1 October and affects services from Northland to Southern DHBs including:
• Child and adolescent mental health services;
• Adult mental health services;
• Forensic mental health services;
• Physical health services.
“The psychologist workforce is in a state of crisis. Turnover is up, and the numbers of psychologists employed by DHBs continues to decline,” said Dr Deborah Powell, national secretary of APEX.
As one example, information released to APEX under the Official Information Act shows that the number of psychologists employed by Counties Manukau DHB dropped from 52.94 FTE in August 2018 to 43.64 FTE in August 2019.
In the last two years 45 psychologists resigned from Counties Manukau DHB. That equates to 67% of the psychologist workforce at Counties Manukau DHB leaving in two years.
“At the same time as the Prime Minister talks about addressing the mental health crisis, our psychologist workforce is being eroded by a failure by DHBs to address longstanding workforce issues. Patients are inevitably suffering from the refusal of the government to act decisively to fix low pay and poor conditions for psychologists,” concluded Dr Powell.
1 Psychologists, including clinical psychologists and health psychologists, are employed in District Health Boards across a range of mental health services including forensic services, community mental health, addiction and inpatient services. Psychologists also work in physical health services including child health, cancer, cardiac, spinal, diabetes and older persons’ health.