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More questions about remote mental health service funding cuts
July 24, 2014
Debate continues about remote mental health service funding cuts
July 29, 2014

Media Release – RFDS clarifies position on NT Medicare Local funding

The RFDS issued the following media release regarding remote mental health service funding cuts: RFDS letter 25 july 2014

Details below.

(*This blog post relates to previous posts: ‘More questions about remote mental health service funding cuts‘, Questions from Practitioners of Central Australia‘, Response from NT Medicare Local regarding funding cuts‘, ‘The End for NT Indigenous Mental Health Service?‘, ‘Response to Warren Snowdon’s media release‘, ‘Media release re funding cuts from Warren Snowdon MP‘; ‘More on mental health funding cuts…‘; and ‘The loss of RFDS from nntaria – funding slashed‘) 

MEDIA RELEASE

Friday 17 June 2014

RFDS clarifies position on NT Medicare Local funding

The Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia Central Operations (RFDS) has confirmed its position on the delivery of the Mental Health Services Rural Remote Areas (MHSRRA) Program in Central Australia.

Last month the RFDS was successfully awarded an Expression of Interest sought by the NT Medicare Local to continue as the service provider of the MHSRRA Program to communities in the western desert region, or the ‘south-west’ corner of Central Australia.
Upon award of the EOI, however, NT Medicare Local advised the RFDS that the funding allocated to deliver the program to existing service and quality levels had effectively been halved.

“A reduction of funding by some 50 per cent would significantly compromise the quality of service delivery and care provided to mental health patients in the western desert region,” says John Lynch, CEO of RFDS Central Operations.

“Outcomes of the MHSRRA Program have been significant. There has been a reduction of admissions of ‘acute’ patients from the south-western region of Central Australia to the Mental Health Inpatient Unit at the Alice Springs Hospital,” Mr Lynch said.

“The task of maintaining the high quality – and continuity – of care over such a large geographic footprint with significantly reduced funding was unacceptable for our patients and our staff.”

After extensive lobbying from the RFDS, the NT Medicare Local agreed to fund a one-month transition period (to 31 July 2014) to allow the RFDS mental health professionals to visit the communities to continue client consultations and, where possible, make referral arrangements.

“We acknowledge NT Medicare Local for accepting our request for funding of a one-month transition period, and commend the RFDS mental health team on how they have approached the situation. They have selflessly put the immediate needs of their patients before their own to ensure the best possible outcome for their patients,” Mr Lynch said.
“Importantly, this outcome is due to funding cuts, and does not reflect the performance of the RFDS nor its dedicated mental health team in Alice Springs.

Mr Lynch said the RFDS remained committed to the health and well-being of rural and remote communities of the Northern Territory.

“The RFDS will continue to provide its mental health care services to the communities in the ‘south east’ region of Central Australia, funded directly by the Commonwealth Government and will maintain its 24/7 provision of emergency aeromedical and retrieval services for Territorians from its Alice Springs Base.”

(ends)

BACKGROUND

The MHSRRA Program in the Northern Territory has been successfully delivered to communities in the ‘south-west’ region of Central Australia for the past seven years – initially under a program managed by the General Practice Network NT (GPNNT), and for the past year by RFDS Central Operations under a contract with the NT Medicare Local, which received Commonwealth MHSRRA Program funding.

RFDS has delivered the MHSRRA Program to approved communities in the ‘south-east’ region of Central Australia for the past three years with MHSRRA Program funding direct from the Commonwealth Government. This funding will continue in 2014-15.

The MHSRRA Program delivers effective and culturally appropriate in-field treatment of mild to moderate diagnosable mental illness to outback communities where there is little or no other clinical mental health service. RFDS mental health professionals work closely with the Central Australian Mental Health Service and other agencies/practitioners to ensure seamless and holistic service delivery between the primary and tertiary sectors.

The RFDS MHSRRAP team providing mental health services to ‘south-west’ Central Australia comprises a combination of psychologists, mental health nurse, social worker and an Aboriginal liaison officer. Visiting communities on weekly/fortnightly basis, the effective treatment strategies include cognitive behavioural therapy, narrative therapy, brief interventions, counselling, motivational interviewing and community development.

MEDIA CONTACT
Kate Hannon
Media & Communications Manager
RFDS Central Operations

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