Workforce issues key in mental health

Sunday 4th July, 2010

The ANF welcomes initiatives to improve mental health services in Australia but warns that workforce issues must be addressed as part of a broader health reform agenda with a focus on primary health care.

ANF federal secretary Lee Thomas said Coalition plans to expand frontline services in mental health must not undermine measures outlined in the May budget which provide a boost of $7.3 billion to the nation’s health care system.”

“Nurses work on the frontline in providing care to people with mental illness and part of the current government’s pledge in the May budget was to provide more nurses, more doctors and more beds for our communities. These initiatives will benefit people in all areas of health care need,” Ms Thomas said.

The ANF supports calls to expand and improve mental health services within a national health reform framework that identifies the vital issues of workforce and national consistency.

“We can’t afford to make this issue a political football. It is far too important and requires a nationally consistent and considered approach that is part of the whole reform process,” Ms Thomas said. “It is not just about announcing new sites where people can access services but boosting the numbers of health professionals available to offer care to people with mental health issues.”

Ms Thomas said health reform must focus on expanding primary health care services such as GP clinics, community health services and mental health services to provide early intervention care and reduce the burden on the public hospital system.

“Unfortunately it seems the Coalition blueprint to increase mental health services is not framed within this broader need for reform of our entire health system with a focus on prevention and health promotion. This is the key to making sure people with mental health issues have access to the services they require.”