4 Jul 2017

Tairawhiti significantly short of psychiatrists, DHB warns

12:50 pm on 4 July 2017

Tairawhiti District Health Board is resorting to prioritising clients and treatment due to a shortage of psychiatrists, its chief executive says.

Doctor writing

Photo: 123RF

Figures revealed yesterday show a shortage of psychiatrists countrywide, and Tairawhiti has one of the regions with the highest vacancy rates.

The region's district health board has 5.2 full time positions but only about half those are filled.

Two clinicians on short term contracts are filling some of the vacancies and the DHB has been looking offshore to find more permanent solutions.

Chief executive Jim Green said they had to be resourceful by using other staff to cover the gaps.

"We need to use all members of the team to be able to provide the care for people.

"So we tend to prioritise the work that absolutely needs a psychiatrist to the psychiatrist and we utilise other people in performing in their roles ... clinical specialists and psychologists for instance, to add to the team and to provide care for people."

He said treatment could be better with more certain staff numbers.

"We need that bigger capacity that we're resourced to have.

"But it's just recruiting those people into those roles. We do need to rely on all members of the team to make sure that people get the care they need."