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The future of community mental health and addiction services is at risk
Non-government organisations (NGOs) play a critical role in supporting people in the community who are experiencing mental health and addiction issues. In 2012/13 more than 50,000 New Zealanders accessed these services. However, unfair funding practices of district health boards (DHBs) put the future of NGOs at risk.
Unfair funding practices must change
Fair Funding aims to re-establish an equitable funding system and stop the decline of the NGO system of community care. This follows exhaustive attempts to resolve these issues over successive years but with no meaningful response from DHBs. They continue to ignore the situation.
We must see a return to fair funding practices for NGOs to be at their best and fully responsive to community needs. Every year many DHBs compromise this and as a result are placing great strain on a previously effective working partnership with the NGO sector.
Unless DHBs take immediate corrective action, New Zealand faces a future without sufficient community-based mental health and addiction care. This would see a return to days gone by when people couldn’t access services in a timely way, resulting in them and their families in distress, and crisis and emergency services overrun with people desperate for help.
Pass CCP on
Each year the government and Ministry of Health recognise there are inflationary costs that mental health and addiction services need to keep pace with.
They give DHBs an annual Contribution to Cost Pressure (CCP) funding increase for their services and for NGO services.
It’s not fair that more often than not DHBs don’t pass on the allocation intended for NGOs. Not only do they keep their share, they keep NGOs’ share too.
DHBs need to commit to passing CCP on to NGOs.
Fund us fairly
It’s not fair that DHBs often fund NGO mental health and addiction services at a lower rate than they fund their own services, and at the same time expect NGOs to achieve unrealistic service targets. On top of that DHBs pay NGOs wildly different prices across the country for the same service.
NGOs need to be equitably funded so they can meet the true costs of delivering services, recruit and retain skilled staff and pay staff a fair remuneration.
DHBs need to commit to paying fair and consistent prices for NGO services.
Drowning in bureaucracy
It’s not fair that NGO mental health and addiction services are regularly required to re-tender for contracts, but DHB services are not.
Also NGOs are audited multiple times a year by multiple government agencies and despite the fact each audit collects the same information the audits are never integrated. This costs money, time and resources that can be put to much better use.
DHBs are wasting tax payer money on excess compliance and must reduce this burden so NGOs can maintain their focus on delivering quality services.
Impact on community
Around 47 per cent of New Zealanders will experience a mental health and/or addiction issue at some point in their lives. This has an impact on every individual, family and community.
Mental health and addiction NGOs are close to the needs of the community. They are at the forefront of supporting people and families/whanau experiencing mental health and addiction issues.
Not too long ago New Zealand was recognised internationally for its progress in investing in mental health and addiction services, in particular the NGO sector. This NGO investment used to sit at 30 per cent of the total mental health and addiction budget, with the balance going to DHBs. This investment is steadily decreasing and ultimately comes with consequences.
No one wants to see a return to the days when very few community services existed for people with mental health and/or addiction issues.