Appointment of second psychiatrist positive

Brad Strong.
Brad Strong.
The decision to post a second Southern District Health Board (SDHB) psychiatrist in Oamaru is proving positive for both patients and staff, the board's mental health medical director says.

In September, the second psychiatrist started working for the SDHB to service the North Otago area.

The addition of the second doctor came in the wake of reports that looked into some local suicides, the DHB realising patients were experiencing long waiting times, and the mental health response being identified as a bit ''thin on the ground''.

Dr Brad Strong said about seven months later, both doctors reported they were enjoying their workload and the doctor who had been based in Oamaru for 10 years said they enjoyed having a colleague, as it made life easier.

''They're happy with it. Both seem to be enjoying the work up there. Both are saying they're finding it helpful to have two of them there - much better access.''

Dr Strong said the health board realised the situation for adults accessing the psychiatrists was not perfect, but the system was still being worked through.

He said a noticeable difference staff had reported about North Otago in comparison to the rest of the SDHB catchment was more people seemed interested in accessing mental health services, but there was no clear reason as to why.

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