State government's lukewarm response to our mental health

MARYBOROUGH'S Margaret Baker has been left disappointed with the State Government's response to her petition for more mental health beds in the Wide Bay region.

Ms Baker submitted her petition with 346 signatures to the Queensland Parliament last month.

The petition outlined her concerns regarding mental health beds in the region, stating that there were 26 mental health inpatient beds in the Wide Bay Hospital and Health Services area and the Queensland Health Plan 2007-2017 recommended 40 mental health inpatient beds per 100,000 total population.

Ms Baker said the region was under target by 53 beds.

In response to the petition, Minister for Health Cameron Dick said a 20-bed Community Care Unit in Bundaberg had begun services in March and was accepting referrals.

Mr Dick said the facility would be fully operational by July 2015 and would provide 24 hours, seven days a week access to clinical and psycho-social mental health care "for individuals who are in recovery but require additional support and life skills to successfully transition to independent community living". He said that would bring the number of mental health beds for the Wide Bay region to 46, which was equivalent to 21 beds per 100,000 total population.

Mr Dick said the State Government aimed to grow mental health services to meet demand in the Wide Bay community.

"Unfortunately the Commonwealth Government does not share this objective and has announced wide ranging cuts to health funding, amounting to $11.8 billion for Queensland over the seven years from July 2017," he said.

"For the Wide Bay community specifically this would translate to a $517 million cut to public hospital services."

He said the cuts would make it difficult for the Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service to offer any additional beds or in any other area.

Ms Baker said she was disappointed the issue had turned into a political blame game when really the focus should be on increasing mental health services.

"It's like beating your head against a brick wall," she said. Ms Baker said she would continue fighting for mental health services in the Wide Bay region and particularly for the Fraser Coast.



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