NSW Budget: 'Bonanza' for paramedics and mental health projects

 abc.net.au  6/14/2018 11:08:38 PM   state political reporter Sarah Gerathy and Brooke Wylie

Posted June 15, 2018 09:04:13

New South Wales Ambulance will have its funding bolstered to $1 billion when the State Government hands down its budget next week.

An additional 750 paramedic and call centre staff have been promised, as well as infrastructure upgrades.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said it was a record investment in the service.

"This is the biggest new numbers of paramedics probably in the state's history and we have been working … to make it safer for paramedics and, of course, safer for patients across NSW," he said.

"Many of those will go to the regions, but certainly the south-west and west of Sydney.

"It'll be a bonanza for everybody," Mr Hazzard said.

The service will recruit and train the first 200 new paramedics this year.

$51.3 million will go towards the new paramedic places, while $72 million has been pledged for infrastructure upgrades and new equipment.

Announcement 'outstanding' but 'overdue'

Health Services Union boss, Gerard Hayes, welcomed the announcement.

"It's good to see now paramedics will have some relief in terms of fatigue, paramedic safety and better outcomes for patients," he said.

"Paramedic injuries have gone through the roof, having two paramedics on every job will decrease that injury rate.

"It's a great outcome all the way around."

The Opposition's health spokesman, Walt Secord, said the announcement was long overdue.

"It's been eight years of under-funding, under-support for paramedics across the state," Mr Secord said.

"We want to know how many more ambulances will go along with these paramedics.

"The Berejiklian Government is big on sweeping announcements but when it comes to the fine detail they trip themselves up.

"It's dangerous for a paramedic to go to a job on their own, so I welcome that."

Increasing mental health infrastructure

Meanwhile, mental health services are also set to get a big boost in this year's budget.

There will be $700 million allocated to build new specialist mental health units for children, teens and mothers with babies, as well as upgrades to other facilities across the state.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet described the new fund as "the biggest single investment in mental health infrastructure in Australia's history".

In the first year, $20 million will be spent commencing planning for the new specialist mental health units and 260 new community-based beds to help long term mental health patients transition from hospital.

The Government said it will spend the next year working out where the new facilities should be located.

The Budget will also contain money to recruit another 260 mental health workers and deliver an extra 1,400 mental health admissions.

The Opposition's Mental Health spokeswoman, Tania Mihailuk, said the extra investments are overdue and questioned whether the Government had properly assessed the system's needs.

"It's difficult to establish whether this will be enough, given that the Government has refused to undertake an inquiry into the resourcing and capacity of mental health units in NSW," Ms Mihailuk said.

"We haven't had an inquiry into the state of mental health units since 2001."

Topics: health, government-and-politics, state-parliament, budget, nsw

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