Threat to funding: NSW mental health, drug and alcohol services


Do any of you nurse in the mental health, or drug and alcohol services areas?

An article published in the Sydney Morning Herald this morning said New South Wales is at risk of losing hard-won funding if they are split into smaller geographic areas under the federal government’s health reform plan.

Specialists say they fear services will be subsumed into the 17 planned regional hospital networks in the state, which would leave money intended for the sector vulnerable to raids by hospital bosses for high-profile activities such as elective surgery.

It could also result in mental health and drug and alcohol services that are too small and lack expertise, they say.  Under the present model of eight larger regions, areas that are sparsely staffed are partnered with urban centres, spreading expertise more evenly.

University of Sydney adjunct associate professor of medicine John Mendoza says the model would leave funds unprotected.

“In NSW it has always been difficult to ensure budgets for mental health have not been used to prop up over-expenditure in other clinical areas.”

University of Sydney executive director of the Brain and Mind Research Institute Ian Hickie, says there is serious danger of disrupting the bit of progress we’ve had in NSW”.

The precise form of mental health services is to be determined at a Council of Australian Governments meeting in mid-2011. A separate drug and alcohol COAG meeting is planned for December 2010.

As nurses, do you think there is a risk of drug and alcohol services being diluted if aligned with smaller groups of hospitals?  Or could the proposed split of funding be beneficial to the smaller geographic areas?

What are your thoughts on the federal government’s health reform plan in general?

We’d love to know so leave us a comment below!

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This post was proudly brought to you by the NSW Nurses’ Association.


  1. Surely someone out there must be a CURRENT Member of DANA ( Drug & Alcohol Nurses Association ).

    I used to be a Member about 15 years ago, but dropped out, so I’m not up on the lastest politics of the situation.

    Methadone Clinics are an interesting side issue of D&A.

    Should THEY be aligned with Public Hospitals, or out in the local community, and run as a private business ?? ( as many are ).


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