Partnerships for Health Reforms and the CMO Mental Health Sector
MHCC has been working closely with our members and the NSW Ministry of Health to establish plans for purchasing mental health services and programs from community sector organisations into the future under the Partnerships for Health (P4H) strategic purchasing arrangements, including identification and discussion of areas for further consultation and investigation.
MHCC’s Briefing and Recommendations Paper (Community Managed Mental Health Sector Considerations for the Partnerships for Health Reform Process, January 2015) outlines seven recommendations that are broad in their scope and highlight the importance of NSW Health committing to development a Community Mental Health Framework against which reform might occur, and that is inclusive of directions of the NSW Mental Health Commission Strategic Plan 2014 – 2024. This is foundational work is embedded in Recommendation 5.1.1 of the Strategic Plan and is necessary for NSW Health’s successful achievement of a Community Managed Mental Health Sector Development Plan (Recommendation 8.3.2 of the Strategic Plan).
This change is intended to ensure that services purchased from the non-government sector are aligned with NSW Health’s strategic priorities and broader community needs as articulated in the NSW State Health Plan 2021.
For mental health, this may also require alignment with the forthcoming whole-of-government response to the NSW Mental Health Strategic Plan. The NSW Health response to the Strategic Plan provides some guidance on possible directions for the P4H mental health services and programs purchasing plan (Strengthening Mental Health Care in NSW).
The NSW Ministry of Health released the NSW Health Partnerships for Health: A response to the GMIP Taskforce Report in March 2013 which outlines a new approach to partnering with providers of health and health related services.
Through P4H, the NSW Health will introduce new funding arrangements for non-government organisations (NGOs) that will be consistent with the way NSW Health purchases services from other providers. In this context, NGOs may include both community sector not-for-profit and other private for-profit service providers.
The P4H reform initiative evolved from the NGO Grant Program Review that commenced in 2009 and subsequent Grants Management Improvement Program (GMIP) that was initiated in 2012. The GMIP looked at ways to improve the administration of funding, including grants, and sought to ensure:
- the purchase of quality and cost effective health services
- transparency in funding, and
- appropriate levels of contestability in resource allocation decisions.
Through P4H the funding process is intended to be streamlined and consistent, while retaining a level of flexibility to support innovation.
Other key NSW Health activities in support of P4H Reforms include:
- Stronger engagement with the NGO Advisory Committee on Partnerships for Health implementation through bi-monthly meetings, working groups and regular workshops
- A Grant Management Improvement Program (GMIP) taskforce was established in August 2012 undertaking significant consultations including three community forums, 60 individual consultation meetings and 154 responses to a survey of NGOs
- The taskforce submitted the GMIP Taskforce Report in November 2012, containing 43 recommendations.
- Funding for existing grants was extended through 2013/14 to support the transition to the P4H funding model
- Development of a new contractual form of funding agreement for 2014/15, in consultation with the NGO Advisory Committee, that provides greater clarity around service specifications and a more robust approach to monitoring activity and performance
- Eleven information sessions were held across NSW during October and November 2013, informing over 500 attendees about the staged implementation of P4H
- Regular P4H news updates are available on the NSW Health website and email alerts to stakeholders.