Doctors and medical students in the ACT and NT will now have better access to mental health services
Doctors and medical students in the ACT and Northern Territory will now have better access to specialised mental health services, after the AMA and Medical Board announced providers in NSW and South Australia would be be expanded to cover the territories
The arrangements aim to provide access to confidential health-related triage, advice and referral services, follow-up services (including support and advocacy in returning to work), education, physical offices from which to provide services, training to support doctors treating other doctors, and facilitation of support groups for those with significant mental health problems.
It’s the latest step in efforts to by the board and AMA to establish nationally consistent doctor health services across Australia, funded by a $2 million per year commitment from the Medical Board announced in 2014.
The program is financed by AHPRA membership fees.
AMA vice-president Dr Stephen Parnis told TMR the national plan was designed to ensure no doctor was left uncovered by doctors health programs.
He acknowledged this was an ambitious aim given the size of the funding allocation, and described the $2 million commitment as a “starting point”. He did not rule out other funding sources, such as corporate donors, in the future.
Under an arrangement with the board, the AMA has set up a subsidiary called Doctors’ Health Services (DrHS) to contract with providers. This structure was prompted by feedback suggesting that doctors were less likely to access services administered by the regulator.
Dr Parnis expected contracts with service providers in other states to be finalised in coming months.