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We can't find the solution until we know the problem : understanding the mental health nursing labour force
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by K Gough, Brenda Happell
Objective: Difficulties recruiting and retaining adequate numbers of mental health nurses have been extensively documented in the Australian literature. The continued increase in the average age of practicing mental health nurses has intensified concerns that a workforce crisis is rapidly approaching. Despite the urgency of this situation, there has been no comprehensive, co-ordinated collection of labour force data. The aim of this paper is to synthesise and present labour force data gathered from various official sources to more clearly identify and articulate the nature and extent of the problem. METHOD: Relevant labour force data was obtained from reports produced by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and the Victorian Department of Human Services. Information was collated, synthesised and, in some cases, re-analysed to provide a clearer picture of the current national and Victorian mental health nursing labour force, as well as requirement and supply projections. RESULTS: Findings are consistent with conclusions in the available literature but suggest that the magnitude of the problem is likely to be greater than previously anticipated. CONCLUSIONS: The systematic and coordinated collection of mental health nursing labour force data is crucial in order that appropriate interventions can be implemented and evaluated.