24/7 mental health triage service privatisation denied

Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Adam Crouch

Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast, Adam Crouch, has labelled Labor MP’s claims that the Central Coast’s 24/7 mental health triage service was at risk of being privatised by the NSW Government as false.

In edition 199, it was reported that Federal Shadow Assistant Minister for Health and Member for Dobell, Emma McBride, and Wyong and Gosford MPs, David Harris and Liesl Tesch, had banded together with local members of the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association in a campaign to stop the potential outsourcing and privatisation of the service run by local mental health practitioners, but according to Crouch, those claims are unfounded.

“There are no cuts to services or staff on the Central Coast.

“Local funding and staff allocations are being increased,” Crouch said.

“In April, the NSW Government deployed more than 180 mental health workers across NSW as part of a $73M package.

“This package included a $16M boost to the NSW Mental Health Line, which is staffed by specialist mental health clinicians who can provide immediate care and expert advice and make referrals to appropriate services.

“To meet increased demand as a result of COVID-19, Local Health Districts had the opportunity to use an existing external provider to answer calls, freeing experienced mental health staff to respond to the increased demand.

“It is hard to believe that Labor would argue that during a pandemic, when lives are most at risk, Local Health Districts shouldn’t use an accredited provider to ensure there is help at hand.

“If Local Health Districts were not using this provider, they would have to pull staff from other frontline duties.

“The NSW Government is committed to enhancing mental health service capacity to support people in their homes rather than in hospitals and emergency departments during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Crouch said.

Crouch added that the Central Coast Local Health District was currently receiving more than $3M in funding (breakdown below) that was actually allowing for growth in the sector, including approximately 16 new full time equivalent positions currently being created in the Central Coast Local Health District Mental Health Service.

Central Coast Local Health District funding: $1M Supporting First Responders; $90,000 MHL Relationship Manager; $290,000 – enhancing therapeutic activities; $800,000 – additional community mental health staff to support vulnerable communities; and, $1M – expanding virtual mental health care.

Media statement, Jul 30
Adam Crouch MP
Reporter: Dilon Luke