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More mental health nurses for voluntary bonding

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A record number of mental health nurses have applied for a scheme to help reduce shortages in hospitals, in our communities, and in our regions, says Health Minister David Clark.

The Voluntary Bonding Scheme, which has been running for a decade, had 148 mental health nurses accepted for the 2019 intake, the highest ever and an 11 per cent increase on last year.

“The government is committed to taking mental health and addiction seriously. We want to ensure everyone can get access to mental health support when they need it.

“To make that happen we know we need more mental health nurses in our hospitals, community organisations and addiction services. So it’s encouraging to see more new nurses sign up for voluntary bonding,” says David.

“Past experience tells us that registered nurses on the scheme are more likely to stay in mental health work than their counterparts. Their retention rate at five years is up to 27 per cent higher. That’s a great result and is good evidence the scheme is working.

“Staying in the job is better for both patients and health services. Patients benefit by being treated by more experience staff and health services gain from savings in recruitment and training costs – a saving of $1.90 for every dollar spent on the scheme.”

The mental health nurses graduates registering for the scheme include 24 mental health nurses within Canterbury DHB, 19 within Waitemata DHB and 18 within Counties Manukau DHB.

This year 357 new graduate health professionals were accepted on the scheme – about the same as last year.

This year’s intake included 67 new midwifery graduates – a record number which represents almost 40 per cent of all midwives who graduated last year. A significant proportion of the midwifery registrations were from the Counties Manukau DHB region – where there has been particular pressure on services.

More GP trainees were also registered with the scheme this year than ever before – 35, up from 24 last year.

“It is also good to see that we’ve had a high number of Maori health professional graduates register – 73, on a par with a record 74 registrants last year. There were also 40 Pasifika graduates who signed up.

“This means that nearly a third of all the graduates accepted on the scheme this year are of Maori or Pasifika descent. We need to continue to build on these numbers so that our health workforce is more representative of our diverse communities,” says David.

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