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National wants greater Commission accountability

National wants greater accountability from Commission

National will seek to amend the Mental Health Amendment Bill to ensure the Mental Health Commission does the job properly says National Party Associate Health spokesman Jonathan Coleman.

The bill had its first reading today, and Dr Coleman said when the House resumes next year, he would seek to extend its life only to 2009 rather than 2015 as proposed by the Labour Government.

“The reason for this is that National feels it cannot give the commission a blank cheque until 2015.

“We want the commission to be held to account properly for the work it does, and that means regular reviews of its performance.

“The Mental Health Commission has a real role to play in shaping the development of mental health services

“Spending on mental health has increased under Labour, but mental health statistics actually show things getting worse. A lot of money is going on strategic plans, reports, and bureaucracy, while spending is not being effectively targeted.

“The sector also has major workforce problems – at a time when DHBs are underspending their ring-fenced mental health budgets to the tune of $18 million a year.

“The recent Commonwealth Fund report found that when it comes to ability to care for patients with mental health problems, less than half of New Zealand’s GPs feel well prepared.

“National believes we need to look to primary care to take on more of the workload in mental health, but to do so, GPs need the resources and training to operate effectively.

“Many community mental health services provided by DHBs would be better provided at primary care level by teams of professionals.

“We would like to see the commission pushing the Government on this, playing a major role in monitoring the results, and providing objective assessments of the success of such projects.”

Ends

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