INDEPENDENT NEWS

MOH mis-spending levy money?

Published: Fri 13 Oct 2006 10:58 AM
MOH mis-spending levy money?
Figures released by the Minister of Health seem to disclose a lolly scramble for some problem gambling intervention treatment providers says the Chairman of the Charity Gaming Association, the Rt Hon Paul East.
“This is a major concern at a time when a growing number of community organisations are struggling to make ends meet. Every dollar spent by the Ministry of Health is a dollar less paid in grants to the community.
“In answer to a Parliamentary question the Minister has published a table which shows the Ministry spent more than $143,000 for one treatment provider to have eight treatment interactions with problem gamblers in a year. We don’t know how many actual problem gamblers are involved but it is likely to be less than eight individual people.
“If it was an isolated case it might be possible to find an explanation – but it isn’t.
“Three other treatment providers were all paid more than $440,000 to provide treatments on another 32 occasions.
“It’s also clear there are better options available – other treatment providers cost a fraction of the amount which has been paid to the top four.
“But overall it’s a very gloomy picture. Despite the fact that the numbers of people seeking help from MOH funded services has declined by more than 20% since the end of 2004 the Ministry has poured public money into treatment services at an alarming rate.
“Since June 2005 the amount of funding has gone up $2.5m – an increase of more than 40%. The actual number of treatment interactions has gone down more than 5% in the same period.
“The Ministry has no idea how effective its expenditure is because it has told the CGA it doesn’t measure outcomes, it only funds full-time equivalent positions.
“This is serious mis-management of public money which is paid for by CGA members through the compulsory Problem Gambling Levy. The levy provides approximately $19 million each year for programmes aimed at minimizing the harm from gambling.
“CGA member trusts are committed to taking responsible action to minimize the harm caused by the inability of some people to control their gambling. The Ministry of Health should display a similar sense of responsibility in the way it manages money from gambling. Every dollar mis-spent or misdirected by the MOH is a dollar less for community grants,” concluded Mr East.
ENDS

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