Barry Soper: Clean Car Discount conflict and mental health spending annoyance


Manage episode 295578912 series 2882353
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Health Minister Andrew Little says he is "extraordinarily" frustrated at the slow pace of the Government's $1.9 billion mental health package announced in 2019.
It comes after revelations from the Herald of acute mental health units running at capacity, and Newshub reporting just five extra acute mental health beds have been added as a result of the Government's record mental health investment.
In Budget 2019 the Government announced $1.9b for mental health, with $235 million set aside for building mental health and addiction facilities.
National's mental health spokesperson Matt Doocey revealed just $500,000 of $235m set aside for new mental health facilities in Budget 2019 had been spent, or 0.2 per cent.
Little said he was "extraordinarily" frustrated that despite making commitments and setting aside funding they seemed to be a "long way behind actually getting a shovel in the ground".
"I am still trying to understand why. I am not expecting facilities to be completed or fully staffed but we seem to be a long way behind actually getting a shovel in the ground.
"We made the decisions, commitments, the money is there but the design and execution is out of our hands."
The Herald revealed on Monday nearly a third of beds in acute mental health units were occupied by long-term patients who should be treated in the community, reducing the spaces for people who need urgent care.
Acute mental health units regularly operated at full capacity, when 85 per cent was considered the maximum safe level.
Newshub also reported on Monday the lack of spending had seen just five extra acute mental health beds been added, with patients forced to sleep on mattresses on the floor because there were no mental health beds left.
Little said this situation was "not acceptable".
Little, who was not Health Minister when the Budget was announced, said he had regular "catch-ups" on progress, but he would now look to instigate an independent stocktake to seek further assurances.
Doocey said the Ministry of Health had been misleading about its lack of progress on mental health spending.
The low spending rate had been revealed in a written parliamentary question to Doocey, but not mentioned in a response to Newshub in a report on Monday.
"Yesterday they said they did not know how much was spent, when they did and the reason is because it was only $500,000 out of $235m.
"We have people sleeping on floors, we have people sleeping in kitchens, in staff rooms, people leaving mental health facilities and killing themselves.
"The Government promised it would make a difference to mental health and transform the mental health system and they have completely let the country down."

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