Qld govt backs mental health on Medicare

·2-min read

The Queensland government is backing calls for all mental health, drug and alcohol patients to have access to Medicare rebates for treatment and for those services to be expanded in GP clinics.

The government has already pledged an extra $1.64 billion over four years for these services, which the state parliament's Mental Health Select Committee found have the lowest funding per capita of any Australian jurisdiction.

It says it supports the recommendation that Medicare rebates be made available for all mental health, alcohol and other drugs (MHAOD) services.

"The Queensland government will work with the Commonwealth government to advocate for Queenslanders to have better access to Medicare subsidised MHAOD through primary health services," said the Queensland government's response to the report, released on Tuesday.

Expanding mental health, alcohol and other drug services and making them more fit-for-purpose in GP clinics was also backed by the state government.

It has promised to work with the federal government to upgrade GPs to offer such services to patients experiencing mental ill health or drug and alcohol issues.

"The Queensland government recognises the vital role the primary health care system, including general practitioners (GPs), have in the continuum of care for people experiencing MHAOD issues," its response said.

Offering more mental health services for older Queenslanders in hospitals will be also considered, and whether the Hospital in the Home service is viable for aged care residents.

However, the government is wary about a recommendation that it leverage counsellors to treat to mental health and drug and alcohol patients.

"While the Queensland Government recognises the potential value of employing counsellors with appropriate training, qualifications and experience in suitable roles as part of the broader health workforce, a lack of regulation within the counselling industry creates challenges in implementation," the government said.

"Counsellors with suitable qualifications and experience are most appropriate in community-based primary healthcare settings to meet the needs of people with mild to moderate MHAOD issues to provide effective early intervention and to decrease the pressure on specialist services."

Adding more nurse navigators to help high-risk groups access perinatal and infant mental health services is also being considered by the government.