COORDINARE – South Eastern NSW PHN today joined with Senator Jim Molan and five other PHNs to announce that ProCare Mental Health Services, a not-for-profit service provider, has been funded to operate a new psychiatry support line for GPs. According to Dianne Kitcher, CEO of South Eastern NSW PHN, GPs have said they would like timely access to psychiatry expertise to assist them managing the care of their patients with mental health problems. “At present, there are no psychiatry advice services for GPs in NSW. There’s also limited psychiatrists practising outside the metropolitan areas so it’s crucial that regional GPs are supported,” said Ms Kitcher. “It is anticipated that more mental health consumers would remain in general practice if GPs had access to a telephone advice line staffed by specialist psychiatrists,” she said. “It is not about triaging or referring consumers to a psychiatrist, but rather keeping consumers whose conditions are able to be treated within primary care under the care of their GP,” she said. Ms Kitcher said ProCare Mental Health Services was selected following an open tender process conducted with five other PHNs, Northern Sydney PHN, Central and Eastern Sydney PHN, Hunter New England and Central Coast PHN, Murrumbidgee PHN, and Western NSW PHN. “This is the first time that six PHNs have joined together to co-commission a service and we are delighted with the outcome,” said Ms Kitcher. “ProCare has proven success in providing a range of high quality mental health services that support individuals, couples, families, and children. The organisation has also demonstrated it is able to deliver a high quality phone advice line for GPs with strong clinical governance in place,” she added. The new support line is due to commence operations on 2 July 2018 and will be great news for local GPs in the region. “We know that South Eastern NSW has high rates of mental and behavioural disorders and psychological distress amongst young people, and relatively high rates of suicide and selfharm, compared to other regions across the state,” said Ms Kitcher. “Our data also shows high levels of psychological distress and self-harm amongst the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population so we have been commissioning innovative new services accordingly,” she added. Senator Molan applauded the decision to commission a psychiatry support service to assist local GPs. “One in five Australians will experience mental health problems each year. We want to assist GPs in accessing the expertise they need to provide better and more timely care for their patients. “That is why the Coalition Government is increasing mental health funding to around $4.3 billion this year,” Senator Molan said.
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