Sector News — 28 July 2014

While there has been a lot of focus on the federal budget’s potential impact on health services it is easy to forget that there are many health services facing immediate funding issues. Today AMSANT released the following press release:

Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT) today called for urgent action to ensure that Aboriginal communities in the south-west region of Central Australia do not lose vital front line primary mental health services.

“The circumstances of the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) discontinuing the Mental Health Services in Rural and Remote Areas (MHSRRA) Program in the south-west due to a funding cut remain unclear”, AMSANT CEO, John Paterson said.

“What is clear is that we have to urgently get to the bottom of what has happened and ensure that there is no loss of frontline mental health services to these communities.

“Whatever the circumstances it appears that a successful preventative and treatment service built up over a number of years is now due to end on the 31st July.bigstock_Health_Care_Costs_Australia_1437511

“At the moment there are no other primary mental health services meeting the needs of the ten effected communities and over 50 outstations in Central Australia.

“It is unacceptable that these Aboriginal communities should face the prospect of a cut to an essential front line community service.

“We are aware of concern and anxiety within the effected communities and health services about the loss of the current service.

“We ask that the Commonwealth Government and Northern Territory Medicare Local (NTML) take urgent steps to ensure that there is no loss of frontline mental health services to these communities, and that service levels and quality are maintained.

“It is imperative that the government and NTML work closely with Aboriginal health services to achieve quality services in this critical area of need”, Mr Paterson concluded.

The MHSRRA program in the south-west of Central Australia is managed by the Northern Territory Medicare Local (NTML).

This article first appeared on ‘Crikey’ on 25 July 2014.

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