NSW won't support mental health inquiry

·1-min read

The NSW government says it does not support a review of rural mental health services, nor the establishment of an independent body to investigate alleged cover-ups and medical errors, as recommended by a recent inquiry.

The parliamentary inquiry into health care in regional and rural areas made 44 recommendations in a damning report handed down in May, exposing a system at breaking point.

Witnesses spoke of cooking and cleaning staff handling nursing duties in rural hospitals amid staff shortages, pregnant women travelling hundreds of kilometres to give birth, and elderly patients dying on bathroom floors.

The NSW Regional Health Minister Bronnie Taylor on Thursday released the government's response, saying it supports 41 of the recommendations in full or in principle and "notes" three others.

"It is my absolute priority to ensure that no matter where you live in our state, you have access to health services you need and deserve," Ms Taylor said in a statement.

The government said a recommended mental health inquiry would only duplicate recent examinations, and risk taking resources away from programs set up after recent disasters and the pandemic.

The committee also recommended the establishment of a review body to look into medical errors and deaths, but the government said the NSW Ombudsman and the Health Care Complaints Commission already have that authority.

In response to a proposal to ensure that health is central to all decision-making, the government said it is already collaborating across portfolios to bolster health outcomes.

It plans to consult with the South Australian government, which has a "health in all policies" framework.

Ms Taylor said a new advisory panel would help the government create a regional health plan to be released later in the year.