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Government continues to stall on mental health

Government continues to stall on mental health

The fact that the Government is delaying any formal response to the Mental Health and Addiction Inquiry until March next year is appalling, National’s Mental Health Spokesperson Matt Doocey says.

“After claiming that mental health services were in crisis under National, the Government has stripped funding set aside for the sector and wasted time waiting for its inquiry to report back. The Minister has also chosen not to release the report until the end of the year and is refusing to respond until March 2019.

“In the time that the inquiry has been running, the Government could have made meaningful changes by increasing access to services for people in need. Instead, they continue to kick the can down the road by outsourcing for ideas with an unnecessary inquiry.

“The then opposition parties made mental health a major election issue but now in Government have left the public without any improvements to the system or increased access. It will be halfway through the Parliamentary term before any decisions are made and even longer until new policies are rolled out and there is any real change.

“The Government axed 17 important initiatives that would have increased access to services, improved our responses and provided more wraparound support to instead prioritise $2.8 billion for tertiary students and $3 billion for Shane Jones’ slush fund. This is just wrong.

“I am calling on the Minister to respond to the mental health sector’s call for the release of the report as soon as possible given the amount of public interest in this area. The Inquiry has cost Kiwis $6.5 million and we all deserve to know what the Inquiry Panel has found and recommended to the Government.

“The Minister has already denied an opportunity to pursue meaningful cross-party change and he needs to work collaboratively to make sure we find long-term solutions which will improve the well-being of all New Zealanders. Hiding the report away until Christmas will not achieve that.

“It’s time to get on with it. The Government promised to take action, and they need to follow through on that promise sooner rather than later.”

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