Bundaberg Base Hospital.
Bundaberg Base Hospital. Brian Cassidy

Election promise: Labor offers a new mental health centre

EXCLUSIVE: If Labor wins the Federal Election, mental health across the Wide Bay will benefit.

The election promise comes as Opposition Leader Bill Shorten visits Bundaberg today on his bus tour of the state.

In a release exclusive to the NewsMail, the party said a Shorten Labor Government would improve mental health services in Queensland's Wide Bay region by building a dedicated community mental health centre in Bundaberg.

"Labor will invest $15.7 million to construct the new building to accommodate rapidly expanding community mental health services in Bundaberg,” it read.

"This is part of Labor's Fair Go Action Plan to protect Medicare and fix our hospitals.”

While funding for mental health services for this region has been growing, additional clinical and office space is needed for that growth to continue.

The new community mental health centre would "enable the expansion of services and deliver a more consumer-friendly environment than hospital-based services”.

The centre would have clinical areas suitable for children, elderly people and people who need alcohol and drug services.

The media release was a joint effort from Mr Shorten, health and medicare spokeswoman Catherine King, ageing and mental health spokeswoman Julie Collins and Labor candidate for Hinkler Richard Pascoe.

Labor leader to visit Bundaberg today.
Labor leader to visit Bundaberg today. Leighton Smith

Labor promised it would also refurbish the area within Bundaberg Hospital's Acute Mental Health Unit vacated by child mental health services.

That would provide four additional acute beds.

"Bundaberg and the Wide Bay region are growing, placing increasing demand on local health services. Demographically it is considered a high needs area given its population is ageing and has more complex health requirements than most.”

"That's why we're making this investment.”

"Labor believes every Australian should get the best quality health care whenever they need it - no matter if you live in Brisbane or regional Queensland.”

"The Liberals on the other hand just cut and cut and cut from health,” it claimed.

"As Treasurer, Scott Morrison cut from health and hospitals in every Budget he authored. His government has cut $3million from Bundaberg Hospital under the current 2017-2020 funding.”

The statement claims that's equivalent to 4500 emergency department visits or 7300 outpatient appointments.

Labor claims that is part of a $160million cut to Queensland hospitals, and a $715million cut nationwide.

"Now Morrison is trying to lock in those cuts for another five years - a dud deal that the Queensland Labor Government is resisting,” the statement said.

Labor would reverse the Liberal cuts with its $2.8 billion Better Hospitals Fund, which would be the source of the funds to build the new community mental health centre for Bundaberg, it said.

"Labor can afford to build a new mental health centre in Bundaberg because we are tackling unfair tax loopholes and making multinationals pay their fair share,” it read.

"Only Labor can be trusted to fix Queensland's hospitals and health system,” it said.



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