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Auckland Mental Health Services Plan Accepted


Auckland Mental Health Services Plan Accepted

Health Minister Annette King says the Mental Health Commission’s review of Auckland mental health services is a “call to action”.

Releasing the review today, Ms King says the Government has accepted in full recommendations to redress serious historic issues identified in the delivery of mental health services in Auckland.

“Since I received the draft report from the Mental Health Commission, I have been consulting with the Commission, with the chairs of the three Auckland DHBs, and with the PSA working on an agreed action plan.

“As a result, I have authorised $2.8 million in funding tagged for next year to be brought forward and used immediately to purchase 20 packages of care in the Auckland region. The packages represent services aimed at individuals needing care, rather than concentrating on particular beds in one facility or another.”

Ms King says the report documents unsatisfactory planning, delivery, monitoring and funding of mental health services in the Auckland region.

"The report confirms that Auckland’s mental health needs have been outstripping its mental health services, despite significant investments that have been made.

“Big problems need big solutions and I have received approval for $10 million to be brought forward from out-year funding for mental health to be used in the Auckland and Midland regions over the rest of this financial year and in 2003/04.

“This will bring these two regions closer to the rest of New Zealand as soon as they put new services in place. They have been behind the central region and the South Island in funding and service provision when measured against the Mental Health Blueprint.”

Ms King said it would be a mistake, however, to concentrate on money as providing the sole solution. “The report reveals that funding shortfalls are only one symptom of the problems facing mental health providers in Auckland.

“It says the Auckland region should be doing better with the level of funding it has and extra funding in itself will not resolve systemic problems. For this reason, all three Auckland boards have agreed on a new approach to regional co-ordination of mental health services.

“It is time that we looked after the needs of mentally ill people in Auckland in a regional, collaborative way, instead of taking the more narrow focus that has tended to occur in the past.”

Ms King said the existing regional funding arm, the Northern DHB Support Agency (NDSA), will be bolstered by creating a new general manager position reporting directly to the three Auckland DHB chief executives. The new general manager would lead a strong regional co-ordination team within the NDSA.

All three boards supported the new approach, and the new position would be advertised as soon as practicable, she said.

Ms King said it was encouraging that the authors of the report believed Auckland mental health services are provided by a large number of very committed people.

"We have got many good health professionals, managers and staff, and it is only right that we ensure that these people have the right tools, the right support and the right infrastructure to allow them to work as effectively as possible.''

Questions and Answers

What will the $2.8 million be used for? It will be used to support immediate action in improving regional co-ordination, and 20 new accommodation packages with intensive support (equivalent to sub-acute beds), as well as continuing the temporary services put in place to date.

Where does the $2.8 million come from? The 2003/04 baselines for health funding already includes $20 million of additional mental health funding approved in the 2000 Budget. The $2.8 million is the maximum amount of funding that could be brought forward, and still leave enough in 2003/04 to cover the ongoing costs in the northern region.

How much will these 20 new packages of care/beds cost? Estimated costs are $2.2 million per annum.

What money has the Government set aside for expanding mental health services? In the 2000 Budget the Government confirmed it would spend $257.4 million more over the next four years as it implements the blueprint. The blueprint is already two-thirds implemented.

Why is funding so critical for mental health services? While there has been a doubling of spending in the past decade, there is still a long way to go before blueprint targets are met. New Zealand now has two-thirds of the services called for by the blueprint.

How much is spent on mental health services each year? Spending on mental health has doubled in the last decade. In 1997/98 expenditure was $524 million, including GST. Last year, the Government spent $780 million on mental health services. By 2003/04, it is estimated spending on mental health will stand at about $880 million.

What is the level of funding for Auckland mental health services compared to other parts of the country? The baseline mental health service funding for the three Auckland DHBs for 2002/03 is $207 million (plus GST). There is also $10.7 million (plus GST) of additional blueprint money going into the northern region in 2002/03 (including $230,000 plus GST for Northland).

The Ministry is currently negotiating an additional $3.5 million worth of new forensic services with the northern region for 2002/03.

Funding to the northern region, which is made up of the four northern DHBs, increased by $20.7 million (plus GST) in 2000/01 and $10.2 million (plus GST) in 2001/02.

Why is disproportionately more blueprint money spent in Auckland? The Northern and the Midland regions are further behind blueprint targets than the southern regions.

What are examples of how much the $10 million for the Northern and Midland regions will buy for mental health services? This money will bring the two regions closer to equity with the rest of the country and will fund the equivalent of 125 community mental health workers, or 65 acute inpatient beds, or 90 sub-acute clinical rehabilitation beds.

Given that so much extra money is being spent in mental health, why are mental health services unable to provide sufficient service to meet current needs? There has been a long history of under-funding and while it is more expensive, a modern community-based mental health service provides better health and human rights outcomes.

How many people use mental health services in the Auckland metropolitan area? On average Auckland metropolitan DHB mental health services see around 8750 people (about 0.7% of their population) per month.

How many people use mental health services in New Zealand? On average DHB mental health services across the whole of New Zealand see around 31,500 people (about 0.8% of the population) per month.

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