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Ring-fence project shows ring-fence intact

Ring-fence project shows ring-fence intact

The Ring-fence Protection Project shows that the ring-fence around mental health money in the six DHBs investigated is intact, however it also highlights some issues that need to be addressed in the sector.

Mental Health Commissioner Jan Dowland says that the project was initiated because of concerns in the sector. “Those concerns were not directed to any particular DHB. The six DHBs selected for the project are the largest DHBs and together they account for more than 60 percent of mental health spending,” says Jan Dowland.

The project found that money allocated in 2001/02 for mental health was being spent in mental health, or was earmarked to be spent in the next year.

It also reaffirms the Government’s commitment to the ring-fence policy and the importance of building more and better mental health services.

However, Jan Dowland says that the project raises some concerns.

It found that in some DHBs services were not being delivered to contracted levels, with the level of delivery lower than expected from the funding allocated.

It also shows that NGOs are not being compensated for increases in costs and population growth despite this being provided for in the funding allocated to DHBs from government.

Approximately 28 percent of all mental health funding goes to the NGOs. They provide mental health services and support in the community.

Jan Dowland says that the Ring-fence Protection Project was a joint Ministry of Health/Mental Health Commission initiative that was carried out with 100 percent co-operation from the DHBs, all of whom welcomed the opportunity to participate.

“The ring-fence policy is important. It recognises the pressures in the health sector where there is never enough money to meet all the demands. But it is a reflection of the Government’s commitment to mental health service development.”

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