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Mental Health Sector Changes

MEDIA RELEASE, March 28, 2000

Mental Health Sector Changes

Health Minister Annette King said today Richmond Fellowship chief executive Gerry Walmsley was being premature in his judgment that patients could suffer under the Government's restructuring of the mental health sector.

Dr Walmsley said yesterday that progress made in the mental health sector was at risk from changes. He feared the possible shift from a single, central purchaser of services, the Health Funding Authority, to "regional mental health boards" would marginalise the non-government sector, including groups such as Richmond, a national provider based in Christchurch.

Mrs King said today Dr Walmsley was wrong to say there would be no single, central purchaser of services. The Ministry of Health funding directorate would take over that role from the HFA.

Discussion was continuing about the way mental health services would be provided, and decisions were yet to be made, Mrs King said. "It may well be that there is an ability for the ministry to fund some national provider organisations.

"But in terms of regionalisation, I suggest he talks to other mental health providers and to the Mental Health Commission, who are strongly suggesting that there should be regionalisation and co-ordination of mental health services, rather than the current spread across 22 Hospital and Health Services.

"There is a strong push from many providers to stop the fragmentation that has developed, and to deliver a co-operative approach."

Mrs King said she was continuing to consult widely on mental health issues.

ENDS

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