Federal health minister Tanya Plibersek.
Federal health minister Tanya Plibersek. Bruce Thomas

Bundy loses mental health beds

BREAKING: FEDERAL Health Minister Tanya Plibersek has hit out at the State Government for denying Bundaberg patients access access to four new mental health beds after the LNP knocked back funding.

Ms Plibersek said the Federal Government had allocated $290,000 over five years to refurbish the Adult Acute Unit in Bundaberg, which would have also expanded the facility by four beds.

"I am extremely disappointed that the new Queensland Government is so out of touch with the needs of its community," she said.

But despite that costing just $58,000 a year to maintain, a spokesman for state health minister Lawrence Springborg said the money was one-off funding and would have left the State Government to pick up the bill afterwards.

Ms Plibersek said the Federal Government was strongly committed to providing new and improved health facilities in regional Queensland, and area she said was neglected by the previous Coalition Government.

"That's why we allocated over $33 million of capital funding in the 2011-12 Federal Budget to build new and refurbished mental health facilities in Bundaberg, Hervey Bay, Maryborough and Toowoomba - part of $1.8 billion in Health and Hospital Fund Round 3, for projects in rural and regional communities right around Australia," she said.

Ms Plibersek said she was concerned to receive correspondence from Mr Springborg in June this year informing her of the Queensland Government's intention not to continue with the new mental health beds.

In his letter, Mr Springborg said the State Government it would be "unaffordable" to progress the project for Regional Acute/Subacute Inpatient Mental Health Units, including Bundaberg.

But his spokesman said the Federal Government had "a history" of providing one-off funding for facilities and then leaving the State Government with the bill to support them with recurrent funding.

In the current climate this could not be done, he said.
 



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