Bathurst psychiatrist says changes to local mental health services could be fatal

By Natalie Whiting Posted Fri 22 Nov 2013, 7:08am AEDT

There are concerns mental health services in the region could be severely impacted if travel funding for visiting psychiatrists is cut.

Bathurst psychiatrist, Doctor Andrew Frukacz, says the Western Local Health District has decided to stop paying for the travel of visiting psychiatrists from December 1.

Doctor Frukacz says the changes mean he'll no longer be able to visit Dubbo once a week, which he has been doing for the past 16 years.

He says other Sydney doctors might also stop making trips to the region.

"I think there may be some who continue to provide services, but I know of some who are considering seriously ceasing their visits to the region," he said.

mentalhealth"Particularly Orange and particularly Dubbo are heavily reliant on visiting psychiatrists coming from Sydney and my fear is the services there could be severely curtailed."

Doctor Frukacz says there could be fatal consequences if funding for visiting medical officers is cut.

"The absence of adequate psychiatric services means that people with mental health issues won't be able to be seen or won't be able to be seen effectively," he said.

"That would mean that people would be missing out on services, or they'll have to travel to Sydney to access services or they won't access services at all and that could lead to a deterioration in people's mental health and potentially could lead to fatal consequences."

Doctor Frukacz says the proposed changes to how services are funded, will increase the gap between health standards in metropolitan and regional areas.

"The specialists in Sydney don't have to travel to provide services in Sydney and the metropolitan areas, so this will have a huge impact on people in regional and rural areas, in comparison to people in Sydney," he said.

"Therefore that disparity in health, which we know occurs between country areas and metropolitan areas will just be exacerbated."

Read the original story on the ABC

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