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No accountability in mental health

Jonathan Coleman MP
National Party Associate Health Spokesman

2 April 2008

No accountability in mental health

District health boards are failing to account for $300 million spent on non-government mental health providers across the country each year, says Jonathan Coleman, National Party Associate Health (mental health) spokesman.

"DHBs can say how much they're paying for mental health services, but have no idea what the public are getting for that spending or if it is getting to the right people."

Dr Coleman was commenting after the appearance of Waikato DHB before the Health Select Committee today.

"It's incredible - Waikato DHB spent $25 million contracting services out to NGOs last year, yet the DHB doesn't know how many patients are being seen by these NGOs.

"I wrote to the DHB last August asking for a list of NGO providers, the amounts they are paid, and the number of clients that are seen. It provided a very convoluted explanation, at the end of which they couldn't provide any figures for numbers of patients.

"Eight months later, they still can't provide any figures. Waikato isn't unique in this - the vast majority of the other DHBs aren't able to tell me what they were getting for their NGO mental health spend, either.

"We have a crisis in mental health in New Zealand. People are not getting the services they need, sometimes with tragic outcomes.

"At the same time we've got a lot of money being spent, but no idea if it is getting to the right people. There are many excellent NGO providers, but the point is that the DHBs are taking no steps to measure what the NGOs are doing, so there is no way of sorting the good from the bad.

"We've had nine years of planning and committees in mental health under Labour, but DHBs are not even taking the most basic step of working out whether they're getting value for money from the $300 million contracted out to mental health providers."


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