Frozen mental health nurse program reached most needy

The silence came as the Medicare Local with Australia’s biggest mental health nurse workforce said new budget cuts affecting hospitals were placing even more strain on the successful Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program (MHNIP), closed to new entrants in the last federal budget pending a department review.

But the department’s review, quietly released before Christmas, said “patients being supported under MHNIP are benefiting from improved levels of care in the form of greater continuity of care, greater follow-up, timely access to support, and increased compliance with treatment plans”.

The program was saving hospitals money by cutting numbers of admissions and lengths of admissions among mentally ill patients, it said.

Mental Health Minister Mark Butler would not respond to the document despite calls from MLs and the RACGP to remove the cap, with a spokesperson for Mr Butler saying “we’re looking at it closely