COAG Mental Health - New Funding for Mental Health Nurses

New specialist mental health nurses will help psychiatrists and GPs manage the care and treatment of people with severe mental illness.

Page last updated: 09 May 2006

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Why is this important?

  • The Commonwealth recognises the need to support private psychiatrists and GPs who are responsible for the care of around 200,000 people with a severe mental illness. New specialist mental health nurses will help psychiatrists and GPs to ensure that these patients receive the care they require.
  • Having a trained nurse available to arrange services for patients and provide ongoing clinical care will help to ensure that patients with a severe mental illness get the right services at the right time, and may also prevent unnecessary hospital admissions. In addition, it will take pressure off privately practising psychiatrists and GPs, allowing them to spend time on more complex care.

Who will benefit?

  • By 2010-11, it is estimated that through this initiative more than 36,000 patients with severe mental illness will be receiving specialist mental health nurse support each year.

What funding is the Government committing to the initiative?

  • This measure forms part of the Government's contribution to the COAG Mental Health package, as announced on 5 April 2006.
  • The Commonwealth has committed $191.6 million over the next five years to provide funding for eligible private psychiatry practices, general practices and other appropriate organisations, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Primary Care Services, to employ specialist mental health nurses to provide support services to patients with severe mental illness.

What have we done in the past?

  • This is a new initiative in recognition of the need to assist people with severe mental illness to receive better coordinated treatment and care. It builds on measures over recent years to support an expanded role for practice nurses in general practice. It will also complement new MBS items to support the provision of psychological therapies being introduced as part of the overall $1.9 billion over five years that is being provided to improve care for people with a mental illness.

When will the initiative conclude?

  • This initiative will be reviewed in the 2011-12 Budget.

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