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Shortage of psychiatrists in the mental health workforce a critical issue

9 November 2012
The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) congratulates Health Workforce Australia and the federal government on the presentation of the third report into health workforce shortages in Australia. ‘This is a vitally important document’ says RANZCP President Dr Maria Tomasic. ‘It is one step towards ensuring that the Australian community gets the best possible care from a well trained and appropriately resourced health workforce.
 
‘It is pleasing to see the acknowledgment of the significant shortage of psychiatrists and identifying this as a health workforce priority. As medical specialists, psychiatrists are the most highly skilled professionals dealing with mental health problems.
 
‘We welcome the information and analysis by the Health Workforce Authority which will provide a solid evidence base for future planning in this important area.
 
‘Mental illness continues to cause considerable distress and disability for individuals, and impact  on the Australian community. The RANZCP has been working collaboratively with the federal government to increase the numbers of doctors specializing in psychiatry through increased training positions via the Expanded Settings Training placements.
 
‘We also recognise the value of existing government projects such as the Medical Specialist Outreach Assistance Program which is used by many of our members to work in rural and remote locations. Supporting psychiatrists in private practice to use telehealth technology funded by the new ‘Connecting health services with the future’ initiative also increases the access to psychiatrists of people in rural and remote areas. Working with overseas trained psychiatrists to assist them to successfully transfer their skills to local practices has been another priority to ensure an adequate well skilled workforce.
 
‘There is still a long way to go in addressing the mental health needs of Australians’ said Dr Tomasic. ‘The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists look forward to working with the government for the benefit of people with mental illness, their families and friends and the broader community’.
 
Contact: Johanna de Wever on (03) 9601 4940 or email Johanna.dewever@ranzcp.org
 
The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) is the principal organisation training and representing qualified medical practitioners who specialize in the treatment of mental illness in Australia and New Zealand.