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King's failure in mental health spending a tragedy

Paul Hutchison - National Party Health Spokesman

3 February 2005

King's failure in mental health spending a tragedy

The underspending of $16.8 million by DHBs on mental health is a tragedy and a show of ministerial incompetence, says National's Health spokesman, Paul Hutchison.

"The Blueprint for Mental Health, which sets the benchmark for mental health services, has been in place for years, yet its requirements are not being followed," says Dr Hutchison.

"The money for mental health services has been ring-fenced and, after five years of Labour Government, the very least they could have done was manage the spending in an area that has huge acute and chronic problems."

The latest mental health report also shows that children's community mental health services are at less than 40% of those recommended by the blueprint.

"While it is acknowledged there has been an international shortage of psychiatrists and properly trained mental health workers, it is not acceptable for Annette King to simply say she is concerned," says Dr Hutchison.

"She has failed to plan mental health spending properly, and has yet again shown her incompetence.

"Perhaps this is because too much of her time has been spent wading through the mountains of bureaucracy she has created within the Ministry of Health, rather than concentrating on planning urgently needed health services."

ENDS

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