There is a further delay in the long-awaited outcome of the Mental Health and Addictions Inquiry, with a one-month extension being granted to the panel.

The panel was due to report back to the Government at the end of this month and now has an extension to November 30.

Health Minister Dr David Clark said this morning that cabinet agreed to grant the extension to Inquiry Panel chair Ron Paterson to allow the panel more time to “do the job right”.

The stretched sector is anxiously awaiting the results of the $6.5m inquiry, which received more than 5500 submissions and gathered information at 400 meetings and public forums.

Green’s mental health spokesperson Chlöe Swarbrick said she was disappointed at the delay, but if an extra month was needed to properly consider the “huge swathes of evidence” then it should not be rushed. She said the volume of evidence showed how passionate communities were about addressing the mental health crisis and urged the panel not to see a further extension. “People have waited long enough”.

Clark said the inquiry was a hugely important piece of work in a priority area for this Government that would inform policy for many years to come. “Cabinet agreed that we need to give the panel the time to properly consider what New Zealanders have told them and to do the job right.”

Increasing concerns about the mental health and addictions sector led to the call for an inquiry to become an election issue. The new Government announced the $6.5m inquiry in late January, with the aim of informing future policy on issues including funding models, workforce planning and support, and improving co-ordination between health and other sectors.

At the announcement of the 2018-19 Budget, the Finance Minister Grant Robertson indicated that the funding gaps and needs identified by the Inquiry would be addressed in future Budgets.

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