The State Opposition has accused the Government of running a shambolic mental health system with too many chiefs and not enough frontline staff.
During heated debate in Parliament yesterday, shadow health minister Roger Cook said a key recommendation in the highly critical review of mental health services by neurosurgeon Bryant Stokes, who called for an executive director to co-ordinate services, was a slap in the face for management.
He said it was difficult to understand how an area which had its own minister, office of chief psychiatrist and a commissioner could not co-ordinate services.
The Stokes review found the mental health system was fragmented, under-resourced and lacked cohesion.
"It points to a lack of leadership and exposes almost the complete breakdown of the relationship between the Mental Health Commission and Department of Health," Mr Cook said.
"We know that the leadership of both organisations are now almost incapable of talking to each other.
"The department, which is the primary provider of services, largely goes about its work, much to the frustration of the Mental Health Commission, which was set up with the best of intentions but is now sidelined.
"We have the absurd situation where we have a minister for mental health, a commissioner for mental health and the office of the chief psychiatrist and now we're going to have an executive director of mental health," he said.
Shadow mental health minister Ljiljanna Ravlich said the call for an executive director was a vote of no confidence in the commission.
Premier Colin Barnett defended his Government's performance, reacting emotionally and raising his voice as he accused the Opposition of simply directing "personal abuse and negativity" towards those in Government who were trying to improve the situation.
"There has never been a government in WA history that has taken on mental health issues in our community," he said.
He conceded the Stokes report made it clear more action was needed but he argued that his Government had done more than previous Labor governments by commissioning the review and drafting the new mental health Bill.
Health Minister Kim Hames said Labor should not be blaming others after leaving the mental health system to languish for years.
"We've increased the mental health budget by 40 per cent to $582 million, which is a massive increase on what was spent by the former government," he said.