Monday, May 23rd, 2011 - General Practice SA
The recent announcement of new Commonwealth mental health funding has met with mixed reactions from South Australian service providers, with many fearing a cut to the budget for mental health care plans will clog up the system and deny access to those who need it most.

CEO of General Practice SA Gretchen Scinta is concerned that structural changes around fee schedules relating to mental health care plans have the potential to dramatically slow the flow of referrals.

“This budget cut needs to be reconsidered,” she said.
“The great progress the Government has made in improving mental health services has been built on making the system more accessible at the coal-face of mental health support, and we urge the government to reconsider the decision to cut funding for mental health care plans.

“People tend to first seek help from their doctor, and previous funding has made sure that doctors can spend time with patients that need more than a standard consultation.

“Cutting the budget for mental health care planning devalues that first step in seeking help, and the biggest losers in this could be rural South Australians, given their reliance on programs like Access To Allied Psychological Services (ATAPS).

“Our members cannot see how the removal of incentives to facilitate better access and coordination of care is going to have a positive impact upon patient care,” said Ms Scinta.

A similar response has come from the national body representing Divisions of General Practice. Australian General Practice Network (AGPN) Chair, Dr Emil Djakic believes patients need more support for general practice services if they are to receive quality mental health care.

”AGPN welcomes the additional funding for mental health care in the community for services such as (ATAPS) and for coordinated care and flexible funding for people with severe and persistent mental illness.

“However AGPN does not support any reduction in support for the vital role of the GP in planning and coordinating care around the needs of patients.
“Mental health is rightfully a top policy priority for government and further investment in primary and community based models of care are vital,” Dr Djakic said.

General Practice SA is the state based organisation supporting the innovative work of its members, the 14 General Practice Networks in South Australia. The General Practice Networks have membership of almost 100% of general practitioners across the State.

All media enquiries to Belinda MacLeod-Smith on mobile 0400 467 042.

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General Practice SA


General Practice SA is the state based organisation supporting the innovative work of its members, the 14 General Practice Networks in South Australia. The General Practice Networks have membership of almost 100% of general practitioners across the State.
Belinda MacLeod-Smith
P: 0400 467 042
W: www.gpsa.org.au

Keywords

mental health, mental health funding, General Practice SA

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