Smoke and mirrors from the National Party on mental health yet again

The National Party’s re-announcement of an already inadequate response to the crisis in mental health does very little to aid the sector and is utterly insufficient to address growing demand and cost pressures in the mental health system, says the Public Service Association.

"Today’s announcement from Jonathan Coleman on mental health contains no extra funding in real terms for stretched services but plenty of hot air on the actual mechanisms for addressing the crisis," says Erin Polaczuk, PSA national secretary.

"The social investment approach - which is vague by design - fails to address the key issue of underfunding of the overall health sector."

"More and more Kiwis are missing out on access to adequate mental health services, and it’s a question of funding, not targeting or ‘social investment’."

"Our public health system is meant to be universal, and available to all citizens when we need it."

"The trumpeted boost of $224 million for mental health services over four years has been shown by the CTU’s analysis to represent just a 1.2% increase in funding since the last Budget, when a rise of at least 7.3% is needed just to maintain existing service levels."

"Not to mention that the Minister has already announced this ‘boost’ in May’s Budget - it was inadequate then, and it’s inadequate now."

"More worrying still is the lack of focus on suicide prevention, and the inevitable passing of the buck back to DHBs to do more with less, despite the gloried rhetoric of their Minister."

"If National really want to address the crisis in mental health, they could commit to holding an urgent independent inquiry into the delivery of services, set a suicide prevention target and restore funding to the overall health sector."

"Anything less is an election year smokescreen to cover over the real and serious issues in the mental health system."