Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has re-emphasised the need to improve workforce planning to ensure mental health services are fully covered, after a report showed a high rate of vacancies in psychiatry UK-wide contributed to the lack of a specialist mother and baby unit in Northern Ireland.
The South Belfast MLA stated: “Only last week I met the British Psychological Society and I continue to meet groups from across the mental health sector to prioritise services in this area. One significant issue is workforce planning, given the length of time – up to 13 years – it takes to train psychiatrists and other mental health professionals.
“As we head towards World Mental Health Day later this week, the problem is the whole area continues to be looked on as an extra branch of health services rather than as a core element of everyone’s well-being, not least around major life events.
“As the Royal College of Psychiatrists points out, what is required is more consideration early in workforce planning – certainly during medical training and even in schools careers services – of psychiatry and other professions aimed at providing vital missing links to mental health services. This must be a critical element of the transformation process.”