The corollary of an historical insufficiency in New Zealand of specialist facilities for the treatment of eating disorders, specifically anorexia and bulimia nervosa, is an acute shortage of clinicians with the necessary experience to treat people suffering from these diseases.
Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness; between five and 10% of sufferers will die from it. It is the third most common illness in adolescents, after diabetes and obesity. Bulimia is less likely to be fatal, but its occurrence is increasing and the effects of the disease can be severe.
The global shortage of nurses was identified in a recent International Council of Nurses' (ICN) report, and in 2009 it was warned that New Zealand faces a nursing shortfall of 5,000 in the next several years.1
At present, 23% of New Zealand’s nurses come from overseas, primarily the United Kingdom, Australia and the Pacific Islands,2 and by 2011, demand for labour in the medical workforce will outstrip supply by between 27% and 42% of the 2001 workforce.3
The problems are shared by other countries: Australia is projected to have a shortage of 40,000 nurses by 2010,4 while nearly 35,000 nurses – enough to staff the entire health service in Wales – emigrated from the UK between 2004 and 2008.5
To address this challenge and meet its goal of establishing Thrive as a world-class centre of excellence in the treatment of eating disorders, meeting international best-practice standards, Challenge Trust has advertised in Australia and the United Kingdom to fulfil Thrive’s staffing complement. A number of roles have been filled, including those of the staff psychiatrist, psychologist, head nurse, several registered nurses, dietician and residential support worker.
Challenge Trust CEO Clive Plucknett says, “We have drawn on the expertise of a number of people internationally in developing Thrive’s service to be the best it can be.
“Eating disorders are serious psychiatric illnesses which can have profound consequences, including death, and medical data indicates that anorexia is a particularly difficult disease from which to recover. As such, world-class facilities must be staffed by people who are highly experienced in the treatment of these illnesses, and have and continue to advertise widely to attract the additional professionals to complete our current team.”
Upon being awarded the three-year, $8 million contract to establish Thrive, Challenge Trust formalised the partnership with Chris Thornton, one of Australia’s leading clinical psychologists and academics in the treatment and research of eating disorders, as the clinical consultant to the service.
1 New Zealand Nurses Union Chief Executive Geoff Annals, The Press, 19 February 2009.
2 Jean Ann Seago, PhD, RN, Center for Policy Analysis on Trade and Health.
3 Medical Training Board Report 2008, Ministry of Health.
4 Jean Ann Seago.
5 Times Online, 28 January 2008.
For more information about working at Thrive, contact Dianne Bartlett on:
Office Reception Line 0064 (0)9 3075654 OR
Mobile 0064 (0)21 850 073
About Challenge Trust
Challenge Trust is a charitable trust which commenced operation in 1993 and now has 280 staff providing services to more than 1,500 people out of 24 sites in Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Rotorua, Gisborne and the Bay of Plenty regions.
Challenge Trust’s clients include people affected by mental illness, physical disability, intellectual disability, addictions, dual disability and dual diagnosis. The organization has contracts with District Health Boards, the Accident Compensation Corporation, MOH, MSD and other government departments, and an increasing number of private clients.
Services provided include 24-hour residential accommodation, community support to people living in their own homes, educational services, employment and life skills training, advocacy, information, employment opportunities, family/whanau support and various housing options.
The Trust is governed by a Board which employs a CEO to lead the organization and head the Executive Management Team.
Challenge Trust has modelled itself as having the rigour and professionalism of a corporate, blended with the innovation and heart of a non-government organization (NGO)
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