Experts attack Better Access evaluation

Experts have poured scorn on the ongoing evaluation of the overspent Better Access mental health program, arguing it is a waste of taxpayers’ money and compromised by conflicts of interest.

The criticism coincides with a published evaluation of another GP program, Better Outcomes in Mental Health Care (BOiMHC), which uses similar research methodology.

Like the Better Access program, the BOiMHC – introduced in 2001 – enables GPs to refer mental health patients to allied health professionals for treatment via the Access to Allied Psychological Services (ATAPS) program. The study showed that of the 16,700 patients in the BOiMHC program for whom both pre- and post-treatment data was available, there was a mean clinical improvement across all outcomes scales used.

Professor Ian Hickie, executive director of the University of Sydney’s Brain & Mind Research Institute, said using psychologists to identify patients and collect data