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New funding won’t fill existing gap

The Government’s announcement of new money for the Canterbury mental health system will not cover the big gap in existing services, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.

“For weeks Jonathan Coleman has willfully ignored the mental health figures from Canterbury that show child and youth cases had risen by  67 per cent, and adult psychiatric assessments at Emergency Departments had risen by 102 per cent since 2012.

“The Canterbury District Health Board has made it clear to Parliament its mental health services were under ‘unprecedented pressure’ from the Canterbury earthquakes.

“Now the Government is announcing money for funding of new services, but ignoring the fact that the CDHB is going to have a $23.9 million shortfall on the national average in mental health funding for the 2016/2017 year, based on the funding indication they have been given.

“The problem is that despite the earthquakes, Canterbury has been funded at a lower level than many other DHBs when it comes to mental health services. The national average for per person funding is $251 for the coming year, the DHB is expecting to have to make do with just $207 per person.

“Now the Minister is claiming that the Valentine’s Day earthquake convinced him that he had to help Canterbury – something he ignored in Parliament, arguing the level of funding was sufficient.

“While funding for new services is welcomed, the Minister has not addressed the persistent underfunding that is hurting Cantabrians. This is looking like just a PR exercise from a Minister under pressure in Canterbury,” says Annette King.