Mental health triage service may be privatised

Liesl Tesch, David Harris and Emma McBride with NSW Nurses and Midwives Association members

Central Coast Labor MPs stood with members of the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association to attempt to stop the Berejiklian Government from privatising the local 24/7 mental health triage service.

The service is currently staffed by mental health practitioners at local hospitals.

NSW Health has advised that each Local Health District (LHD) has been given the green light to privatise the program or use additional funding to enhance current services, but some LHD’s have reported that no extra money has been made available, pushing the district towards privatisation.

Federal Shadow Assistant Minister for Health, Emma McBride, said the 24/7 mental health triage service should be seen as an essential government service during the current COVID-19 health and economic crisis.

“I have worked in in-patient mental health at Wyong Hospital, so I have first hand knowledge of the importance of this service,” McBride said.

“It must remain in public hands so we can be certain that people seeking help are attended to by experienced and qualified personnel.

Gosford MP, Liesl Tesch, said she was concerned that if the Central Coast LHD opted for privatisation, the service might not continue to be staffed by locals with knowledge of local services and resources.

“The people in our community using this service are some of the most vulnerable and we need to ensure that we’re giving them more than adequate support,” Tesch said.

“Another privatisation by stealth, this time for mental health support, is beyond inappropriate,” said Wyong MP, David Harris.

“We need to hold this government accountable, especially when it concerns the most vulnerable people in our community,” Harris said.

“It’s not good enough to push those who already feel left in the dark further into the corner,” he added.

The MPs said they would be writing to the NSW Minister for Health to request the urgent and obvious need to retain responsibility for delivery of this vital service.

Press release, Jul 27
Jackie Pearson, Office of Emma McBride MP