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Patients must get best treatment money can buy

Government concern is patients get best treatment money can buy

The Hanmer Institute Ltd., which is contracted by the Ministry of Health to provide some beds for publicly-funded patients at Hanmer Springs until 2004, announced today that it will have completed its residential treatment programmes for its current patients, both public and private, by the end of next month.

Any future needs for these or other patients will be attended to either by its own non-residential community-based service providers - or alternatively by other publicly-funded residential or community based service providers.

It is possible that some people may try to play politics over the issue, Jim Anderton said. They might wrongly suggest the Ministry of Health hasn't funded Hanmer sufficiently.

"The reality, however, is that the Ministry of Health has had doubts about the net costs bourne by all New Zealanders for the Hanmer Springs residential facility ever since a 2001 review of the facility.

"The Mental Health Commission is reviewing the Mental Health Blueprint this year so that we can be sure we have the right mix of facilities we need nationally to care for our people and I am determined that if more residential services are needed they will be provided, " Jim Anderton said.

"Health is one of the largest investments that the New Zealand government makes. The Minister of Health is required to constantly review expenses to ensure that New Zealanders are getting the best value for the investments the government makes on their behalf," Jim Anderton said.

"The 2001 Review of the facility raised questions about whether we were getting value for the money invested but the Ministry of Health decided to contract the Institute for further residential services from Hanmer Springs to ensure an easy transition for those publicly-funded patients using the service and for those clinicians that were used to referring patients there," Jim Anderton said.

An audit received by the Ministry this year confirmed that Hanmer Springs offered no medical or health service of any higher quality than other similar-type service providers around New Zealand.

"The coalition government endorses the Ministry of Health's obvious conclusion that all New Zealanders should get the treatment they need for drug and alcohol abuse whether it is community or residentially-based and that scarce financial resources should not be wasted," Jim Anderton said.

"From the community's point of view, using the most financially efficient services means we can get more of our people treated faster," the associate health minister said.

Background Note:

Publicly-funded patients currently using the Hanmer hospital will continue to be entitled to the same quality of service elsewhere.

Hanmer Institute has informed the Ministry of Health that it will stop accepting all residents at the Queen Mary site in Hanmer Springs on November 28.

The Clinical Director of Hanmer Institute has given an assurance that all publicly- funded patients will have finished their current treatment programmes before that November date to ensure an easy transition.

The Ministry has asked Hanmer to prepare a management plan to work through the transition of patients to community facilities and will monitor its implementation.

Hanmer has community clinics with publicly-funded sections in Christchurch, Wellington, Hamilton and Tauranga, as well as a privately-funded facility in Auckland.

The Ministry of Health's Agreement with Hanmer Institute totals $9.8 million over three years. There is 14 months of the agreement term left to run.

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