APEX Psychologist Strike: Third Month of Strike Action to Highlight Workforce Shortages
Six hundred psychologists employed by District Health Boards have issued notice for a third month of nationwide strike action to begin in October (1).Since July members of APEX – the union for health professionals, have been taking partial strike action to win improved conditions for the psychology workforce and to tackle the recruitment and retention crisis the sector faces.
The October strike will impact mental and physical health services at eighteen District Health Boards (DHBs). The third APEX psychologist strike is due to begin at 0800 Tuesday 1 October and continue until 0800 Friday 1 November and involves psychologists completing a maximum total of two hours of face-to-face contact with patients and family members of patients, each day.
“Every week across the country DHB psychological services are being further corroded as the psychology workforce shrinks because the Government is failing to walk the talk on wellbeing,” said Dr Deborah Powell, National Secretary, APEX.
- Hawke’s Bay DHB employs just 2.4 psychologist full-time equivalents in their child and adolescent mental health services. This is the equivalent of one psychologist for 19,045 children and adolescents. Based on international benchmark that health services should employ 1 psychologist for every 5000 people, Hawke’s Bay ideally would have 9 psychologists in their child and adolescent services.
- Waitemata DHB’s adult mental health services have six psychologist vacancies, a vacancy rate of approximately 25%.
“Psychologists are taking strike action for two reasons. First, to highlight workforce shortages impacting treatment for New Zealanders with anxiety, phobias, psychosis, depression, eating disorders, intellectual disability and many other conditions. Second, to protest the lack of action by DHBs and Government to address the workforce issues.”
“Unless DHBs and the Government commits to fixing the psychology workforce crisis, we are going to have treatment for thousands of New Zealanders delayed by strike action. Eventually treatment will be denied because there will not be enough psychologists left to provide the psychological services New Zealanders require,” concluded Dr Powell.
Dr Deborah Powell is available for comment on 021 614 040.
(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.