Big on announcements, slow on delivery

The Government has spent less than half of the money allocated to the its flagship new frontline mental health service over the past year, National’s Mental Health spokesperson Matt Doocey says.

Budget 2019 allocated $455 million to mental health services, with $48 million allocated in the first year. But the Health Minister admitted in question time today that he has only spent $20 million to date.

“It’s easy to make big funding announcements but it’s pointless if they’re not delivered on.

“It’s staggering to hear the Minister say he thought it was ‘quite impressive how quickly things have been rolled out’ when of the Government’s 40 sites of delivery, 22 of them were pilots set up and funded by General Practitioners before the Budget announcement in 2019.

“The 18 new sites delivered by the Government in its first year is less than two per cent of New Zealand’s GP practices. This is not the level of service promised to New Zealanders by the Health Minister last year.

“The Government needs to do much better given the likelihood that we will see huge demand for mental health services as a result of Covid-19 and the coming economic downturn.

“A National Government will focus on delivering frontline services sooner so New Zealanders can access high quality services no matter where they live.”