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Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program – Maintaining Service Levels in 2012-13
The Australian Government is maintaining services under the Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program (MHNIP) in 2012-13. Services will be maintained at 2011-12 levels while findings from an external evaluation are considered by government.
The Australian Government is providing additional funding to the MHNIP in 2012-13 to ensure people with a severe mental illness can continue to receive coordinated clinical care.
Funding will ensure that existing eligible organisations and nurses can maintain client services in 2012-13 at 2011-12 levels, and continue to make claims to Medicare Australia for services so that patients receive the care they need. Organisations can also continue to accept new patients into the program and engage new nurses as long as the overall service levels of the organisation are maintained.
In July 2012, the Department of Human Services (DHS) advised organisations of their session levels for 2012-13. This was based on 2011-12 service levels, taking into account circumstances where an organisation had joined the program during 2011-12 or experienced high activity in the latter months of 2011-12.
At the time of advice, organisations were requested to advise DHS within two weeks if they wished to seek a review of their session allocation. A number of organisations sought a review and this review process has been completed.
On 16 October 2012, DHS wrote to all organisations who had sought a review to advise them of the outcome of their request.
DHS will be assisting all organisations in managing their session levels by monitoring monthly the sessions that have been provided and providing organisations with a quarterly update. If the organisation’s session levels are higher than would be expected based on their allocation, such that it is possible that they may exceed their total allocation prior to the end of 2012-13, they will be advised more frequently.
Organisations wishing to join the MHNIP can only do so where there is attrition in the program. A waiting list of eligible organisations wishing to participate in the program or wishing to increase their 2012-13 session allocation is maintained by DHS.
Together with the criteria outlined in the MHNIP Guidelines for eligible organisations, the following criteria will also be applied to determine whether an eligible organisation may participate in the program in 2012-13:
- whether existing organisations have left;
- ensuring continuity of care to existing patients;
- availability of the MHNIP services in the local region; and
- availability of program funding.
The Government is currently considering the evaluation findings and talking to the sector about them. Key stakeholders attended a roundtable on 16 January 2013 to discuss the evaluation findings.
When the MHNIP commenced in 2007, it was estimated that by 2010-11 more than 36,000 patients with severe mental illness would be receiving mental health nurse services each year. Approximately 39,000 patients received services in 2010-11 and 50,000 patients in 2011-12. As the program has grown to expected levels, it is important to consider the results from the evaluation prior to considering further growth.
In addition to the maintenance of services under the MHNIP, the Government will continue to provide support to people with severe and persistent mental illness through the 2011-12 Budget package. This package includes measures focused on young people, suicide prevention, early psychosis intervention, and, in particular:
- $571.3 million to services for people with severe mental illness – including a new measure to link people to the range of support services they need through the Partners in Recovery initiative and expansion of proven community support services like the Day to Day Living and Personal Helpers and Mentors programs; and
- $200 million over five years (2011-12 to 2015-16) for a National Partnership with states and territories that will assist people with severe and persistent mental illness who need stable accommodation and support.