PRIORITIES: Wayne Jones, Chief Executive, Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSW LHD) and Julie Sturgess, Chief Executive, North Coast Primary Health Network (NCPHN), at the Healthy Communities Day held at the Ballina RSL.
PRIORITIES: Wayne Jones, Chief Executive, Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSW LHD) and Julie Sturgess, Chief Executive, North Coast Primary Health Network (NCPHN), at the Healthy Communities Day held at the Ballina RSL. Javier Encalada

The computer program aiming for better mental health care

A NEW alliance aiming to deliver better healthcare outcomes in northern NSW has set its sights on services addressing mental health issues, alcohol and drug abuse.

The North Coast Collective is a partnership between both the Mid North Coast and Northern NSW local health districts and Healthy North Coast, which is delivering the Primary Health Networks program on behalf of the Federal Government.

The alliance will use a new modelling system to set levels of service in addressing mental health, alcohol and drugs.

The computer modelling created will be tested next month, according to Julie Sturgess, the chief executive of the North Coast Primary Health Network.

"We have done a lot of the work and we have validated a lot of the assumptions that we have entered, and we hope that it will be finished by December,” she said. "After that, the first couple of months (of 2020) we will be working with community using the modelling and developing the strategy that we are going to use for the North Coast Collective in relation to mental health, alcohol and other drugs.”

This shared approach involves joint planning and priority setting, shared resourcing, and a commitment to pursuing the best return on investment for health outcomes.

Ms Sturgess said once the new method used was validated, it would be rolled out to other health services between Tweed and Coffs Harbour.

"As an example, if we were considering implementing an extra 150 mental health beds ... when we look at the model, what we are able to see is that even if we have the money to put in 150 new mental health beds, we would never be able to staff those beds and they would not deliver the outcomes we are looking for, so then we can ask the model what other scenarios and changes can we make so it's not only at the right service model, but we can actually deliver it sustainably, have the staff and the money for the long term,” she explained.

The healthcare priorities for northern NSW were discussed yesterday by Ms Strugess and Wayne Jones, the chief executive of the Northern NSW Local Health District, as part of the Healthy Communities Day held at the Ballina RSL.