The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) welcomes He Ara Oranga, the report of the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction, but says more emphasis on nursing and workforce wellbeing is required.
NZNO President Grant Brookes said many of the issues raised by NZNO in its submission to the Inquiry have been addressed, but that there remain some concerning gaps.
“We appreciate the people-centred nature of the report and its willingness to apply fresh thinking to old and complex problems. If all its recommendations were followed, huge improvements would be made in the lives of people in New Zealand with mental health and addiction problems.”
However, Grant Brookes said that there is nothing in the recommendations to address current workforce wellbeing issues, including increasing incidences of violence towards staff.
“Nurses, whether in the community or in hospitals, are essential. They’re at the forefront in treating mental health and addiction, but we know the mental health and addiction nursing workforce is becoming more tired, fearful and burnt out.
“That makes it a difficult branch of nursing to recruit to. So if we fail to plan for a nursing workforce that is robustly resourced, safe in the workplace and fully staffed, then many of the Inquiry’s other recommendations will come to nothing.
Grant Brookes said he agreed with the report that this is a once in a generation opportunity.
“Health Minister Hon David Clark has said reshaping our approach to mental health and addiction is no small task and will take some time. We think so too, and urge the Government to begin work on a plan to address mental health and addiction needs in New Zealand without delay – and this must include nursing workforce issues.”
NZNO Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku said she welcomes the report’s focus on strengthening Kaupapa Māori services.
“NGOs and Kaupapa Māori services play a vital role in providing culturally appropriate responses and supporting whānau in the community.
“Removing barriers short-term contracting costs and streamlining funding would make these services more sustainable and ensure that the workforce in this sector is well supported.”
Kerri Nuku said NGOs and Kaupapa Māori services form a key part of the ‘whole of government’ approach to wellbeing and agrees that Government must support their development. Further, focus on Māori health must be strengthened within the Ministry of Health and other Government agencies.
NZNO looks forward to continuing to work with the Government and other stakeholders to help bring about the changes recommended in the report.