The New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA) is “delighted” with the Government’s pledge to inject more money into medical centres nationwide to boost mental health services.

The NZMA’s endorsement comes after the Prime Minister and Minister of Health’s announcement yesterday that $6 million of funding has been confirmed for existing, but currently unfunded, mental health services at 22 general practices and a kaupapa Māori provider spread across seven District Health Boards.

This is the first major investment in primary mental health from Budget 2019.

“NZMA advocated for the Government to support existing services for GP practices already providing mental health services and we’re delighted that the Government has prioritised funding for GP practices already making a difference for those with mental health needs, their whānau and their community,” says Dr Kate Baddock, Chair of NZMA.

Braddock says the NZMA is also encouraged by the Government’s intention to begin rolling out new free front line mental health services worth a further $30 million in new areas starting early 2020. The Ministry of Health will issue its Request for Proposals shortly.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the plan over the next five years is to roll out free frontline services across the country so that anyone in distress can easily access free support.

“Addressing the unmet need for mental health and addiction support is a long-term challenge, but we’re taking immediate action to build on existing services.

“It makes sense to start with those providers already offering mental health support but who have not been previously directly funded by Government for it and who did not have certainty of funding going forward.

“This announcement means these existing providers have the certainty they need to invest in their workforce and facilities. And it means the 170,000 people they serve will continue to get the help that they need when they need it,” Jacinda Ardern said.

The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS) was also pleased with the announcement, but urged for more to be done to address shortages in the psychiatrist workforce.

“Community-based services are an excellent way of enabling early intervention as part of the work under way to improve New Zealand’s mental health service,” says ASMS Acting Executive Director, Angela Belich.

“The Government must also address the long-standing shortage in the psychiatrist workforce in order to improve mental health outcomes. The national workforce shortfall across all specialties is estimated to be 22%.”

Health Minister David Clark said the approach was about expanding access to mental health support for people with mild to moderate need.

“We need to make it easier for people to get help early, so that we can prevent small issues becoming major problems.

“That’s what these services are designed to do. Having a mental health worker on hand when people turn up at primary care in distress means there is support available immediately.”

“We want to normalise mental health treatment and get to a place that people feel as comfortable going along to their local GP about a mental health issue as they would any other health issue,” said Clark.

 The PHOs and practices

The integrated GP practices are located in Northland, Waitemata, Auckland, Counties Manukau, Lakes, Capital & Coast and Canterbury DHB.

DHB

PHO

Number of Practices

Practice name

Northland DHB

Mahitahi Hauora

3

Bush Road Med Centre

Kerimed Doctors

Otangarei Health Centre

Auckland DHB

ProCare

2

University of Auckland

Turuki Panmure Practice

Total Healthcare

1

Local Doctors Glen Innes

National Hauora Coalition

1

Orakei Health Service

Waitemata DHB

ProCare

2

Peninsula Medical Centre

Health New Lynn

Counties Manukau DHB

ProCare

1

Mangere Health Centre

Total Healthcare

1

Local Doctors Dawson

Lakes DHB

Pinnacle Midland Network

4

Pihanga Health

Taupo Health

Taupo Medical Centre

The Lake Surgery

CCDHB

Tu Ora Compass

4

Porirua Union Health

Mauri Ora Victoria University

Mana Medical

Hora te Pai

Canterbury DHB

Pegasus

2

Doctors on Riccarton

Piki Te Ora

Waitaha

1

Three Rivers Ashburton

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