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What's The Deal With Mental Health?

What's The Deal With Mental Health?

Friday 14 Mar 2003 Heather Roy Press Releases -- Health

ACT New Zealand Health Spokesman Heather Roy today said there were huge discrepancies between DHBs in the provision of mental healthcare, and asked why these discrepancies exist if - as the Mental Health Commission has found - money allocated to mental health is ring-fenced and being used appropriately?

"Taking into account population numbers, the number of staff allocated to mental health varies significantly from area to area - as does the type of care offered," Mrs Roy said.

"Blueprint funding roll-out has also been extremely variable. In some areas, Blueprint funding is at almost 100 percent while, in others, it has only reached around 50 percent.

"At the present rate of roll-out, each DHB will not have equitable funding until 2020. Meanwhile, vulnerable patients continue to slip through the cracks that exist in our mental health system.

"Health Minister Annette King is correct when she says that a major problem is a lack of qualified staff - particularly psychiatrists. Recruitment and retention must be addressed immediately. It is necessary to do more than simply talk about this problem.

"Mental health continues to be a poor cousin of the more glamorous areas of health - when pathologists were in short supply, a few years ago, they were immediately offered higher salaries. This has not been the case with psychiatrists.

"But the real problem - which Annette King refuses to recognise - is the shortage of acute, medium and long-term mental health beds. The Minister continues to follow the politically correct drive to community care, and ignores the fact that, at times, patients need respite from the everyday pressures that exist within our communities," Mrs Roy said.

ENDS

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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