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Sacrificing mental health to dragons

Written By: - Date published: 10:00 am, June 26th, 2015 - 44 comments
Categories: capitalism, health - Tags: ,

Originally posted at Boots Theory!

The Labour Party has had a sneak peek at the process our government is using to pick “providers” for its mercenary social impact bonds scheme, and it’s like something off television:

Overseas banks and their preferred providers were asked to pitch their ideas for bankrolling the Government’s social bonds scheme to a Dragon’s Den-style panel, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says.

 

“Panel members used ‘score cards’ to rate each proposal and the entire ‘pitch presentation’ was videoed.

“It is unbelievable that the Government is treating such a serious issue in this way. It is also outrageous that the banks, who only this week announced profits of close to $1.7 billion, are now looking to profit from some of New Zealand’s most vulnerable – mental health clients, at risk youth – the very people those same banks wouldn’t want opening accounts.

It’s not completely surprising. As soon as you’ve decided that the point of treating people with mental illness is to get them into work, and accepted the idea that the private sector will be “more efficient” at kicking people off benefits, it makes sense you’d assess organisations’ suitability for the job the same way reality TV decides whether to fund gift cards for dogs and rollerskates for your knees.

Where to next, though?

Maybe we should let the panel buzz out contestants mid-presentation?

americas-got-talent-buzz

Make them walk down a runway in front of Nina Garcia?

nina-garcia-disappointed

Hold the panels on a desert island?

survivor-elimination

Nah, let’s be honest. The only way to really guarantee value for money in the public sector is to go full-on American Ninja Warrior.

salmon-ladder

ninja-warrior-ramp

ninja-warrior-swing

I mean, it makes way more sense than listening to experts in the field and funding services to ensure people get the help they need.

44 comments on “Sacrificing mental health to dragons”

  1. Anne 1

    There are few words to describe this scenario. A morally bankrupt government, with no conception of honesty, decency and compassion, who turn to ideologically crazy and perverted solutions to serious social problems. I feel sorry for Annette King. She’s devoted her professional life to working on improving health care and other social problems in this country only to see her achievements – along with the achievements of many others – crumbling before her eyes.

    • Tracey 1.1

      It suggests the increasing involvement of Julie Christie in government policy thinking (or non thinking)…

      People who know how to make money do not automatically know about EVERYTHING.

      • Anne 1.1.1

        It suggests the increasing involvement of Julie Christie in government policy thinking (or non thinking)…

        That is exactly what was going through my mind when I typed the comment!

        Great minds and all that… 🙂

        • Tracey 1.1.1.1

          her damehoood can’t be far away for all her service to NZ and NZers… whatever that is. Bring copies of other peoples shallow creativity to NZ to make herself really wealthy…

  2. Brendon Harre 2

    I am a psychiatric nurse, dealing with complex cases of multiple needs that change on a rapid basis. I work in a ward were we basically triage our resources (beds, staff etc) to provide the most good at any one time.

    National want to introduce a type of privatisation involving Social bonds into the mental health field. Complex contracts will be written up trying to capture the goals of what we clinicians do. Providers will game the system to achieve those goals in order to make profits. The objective will move from a triage system of doing the most good to a profit motive by gaming arbitrary contracted goals system.

    These contracted goals will be long term, probably a decade or more so this is a way that the current government can allocate future government’s spending. Privatised healthcare systems overseas waste 30% of the expenditure on administration due to the huge amount of time documenting costs to the nth degree. It is likely that any gains from ‘competition’ will be lost due to a change in the culture of the system of ‘doing good’ to that of ‘making profits’ and to administration waste.

    It is possible this change and the changes to Pharmac (from the TPPA if it is agreed on) will put publicly provided healthcare on an fiscally unsustainable path that in the future could lead to further privatisation and a division of healthcare to the ‘haves and the ‘have nots’. Clearly a case can be made for the public provision of healthcare.

    Lets work with progressive politicians to protect our healthcare system. There are several internet campaigns out there. There may be other ways to make our voices heard.

    • Tracey 2.1

      Thanks for commenting Brendon

      Do you believe that the only reason getting those struggling into employment, jobs in this area, is that a bank or finance company hasn’t been bankrolling it? As you see it is there any evidence that the sector in all its guises isn’t willing to try all kinds of researched ways to address this?

      I have a smidge of knowledge of mental health (enough to be dangerous) and have seen nothing to suggest that all that is standing between the employment of these folks is that banks haven’t been financing it? IF money is the problem then the Government needs to prioritise the funding itself.

  3. Save NZ 3

    The best thing is to say you will boycott companies participating in ‘social bonds’,

    If people who Bank with ANZ for example if they tender for ‘social bonds’, move your banking to someone else, Kiwibank for example.

    I think you will find, like with Campbell Live and TV3 found with its fall in ratings, that loss of revenue would be a disincentive to participate in the Nats social experiment.

    They should also look at Northland. Nats are not working for voters.

    Labour, Greens and NZ First should immediately say they will repeal any social bonds experiments if they get into power.

  4. Puckish Rogue 4

    Kacy Catanzaro is a beast! She smashed it and is a helluva competitor.

  5. DH 5

    To my mind the worst bit about this, that people seem a little slow to grasp, is that we won’t be able to vote these changes out. They’ll sign these providers up to 10, 15, even 20 yr contracts and a new Govt won’t be able to undo them.

    Our democracy is being cynically dismantled under our very noses and there doesn’t appear to be a damned thing we can do about it..

    • Save NZ 5.1

      Yep, have grasped that one, but that is why legal action should be considered and more action against cronyism and corruption in this country.

      Like in the 1980’s when the rich who sold off our country were prosecuted, that should be the clear way the opposition should be playing it.

      Remember the Winebox.

      Key has apparently said now, that they paid the Saudi’s the money so they can try to secure a free trade deal. That is called Bribery and I don’t know why the opposition can’t take him to court for corruption.

      Like with Media works getting a $43 million handout and then canning Campbell Live who disagrees with the PM.

      There are pretty clear links of corruption and corporate welfare going on in this country. Sky City etc.

      Why blame the public if our elected opposition (many of whom a barristers) do nothing to stop the rot.

      And actually like Len Brown enable it by spouting the same discourses as the crooks.

    • Tracey 5.2

      just like SkyCity’s licences

  6. D'Esterre 6

    @ Save NZ: “And Greens and Labour and NZ First should be running petitions.”

    Annette King is publicising an open letter on the issue. I got it by e-mail; over 13,000 have already signed it.

    This whole proposal is awfulness heaped upon awfulness. As with the TPPA, seems that it’s past time for a bit of direct action; perhaps large-scale demonstrations?

    I must say I admired the chutzpah of the Greenpeace activists climbing up on the roof of Parliament. It seems to me they accomplished two things: drew attention to their issue, while at the same time exposing the woeful security at Parliament in an area which was obviously a weak point. Had it really occurred to nobody that scaffolding required a bit more guarding than it clearly got?

    While I’m at it, I think they shouldn’t be charged with trespass. We’ve been down this road before, back in the 90s, when the then Speaker brought trespass charges against students protesting in Parliament grounds against fee rises. The courts threw it out: Parliament is the representative body of us the citizens, and we cannot be charged with trespassing on the grounds. The same ought to happen this time.

    Perhaps the police could charge them with embarrassing the Parliamentary security service?

    • Save NZ 6.1

      @D’Esterre

      Yep, got the petition. Good Labour is on the ball on this one.

      Good on Greenpeace too!

      I’m waiting for Mike Hoskings to demand they bring back 100 lashes Saudi Style for government dissenters.

      Win Win, we can then also be closer to our ‘free’ trade deal by adopting the Saudi justice system.

      Weren’t the West supposedly fighting in the middle East to help woman’s rights?

      Now we are adopting government bribery and animal cruelty to support them.

      The irony.

  7. DH 7

    Can’t disagree with any of that…. have much the same views.

    Labour’s reaction to these private contracts seem to be “Damn, why didn’t we think of that first?” Long term contracts effectively cement policy in place for decades after the culprits get booted out.

    Equipment finance leases are largely only three year contracts and that includes many Govt departments who sign up to some very substantial leases. That’s the general norm for private sector contracts there is no justification for these 10-30yr scams the Nats are signing our rights away for.

    • leftie 7.1

      @DH
      “Labour’s reaction to these private contracts seem to be “Damn, why didn’t we think of that first?” ”

      Where did you get that dumbarse idea from?

  8. Ovid 8

    As objectionable as I find the social bonds process, I should think there would be some kind of call for tenders to fit the criteria set by the government. It’s certainly a better process than shoulder-tapping someone.

    As for the animated gifs, they don’t really work for me – it’s one of the reasons why I don’t go to Buzzfeed or Tumblr that often. They suck down the bandwidth on mobile devices too.

    • David H 8.1

      it’s one of the reasons why I don’t go to Buzzfeed or Tumblr that often. They suck down the bandwidth on mobile devices too. I usually only use my phone for web browsing when I can get wifi.

      Also I find those ‘spark’ Free wifi booths on a nice sunny day you can surf happily on the 1 gig a day they let you have. Also Macca’s BK the local library and a number of other places have free wifi hope this helps

      This may help. I use Opera’s off road and it does make a difference,

      http://www.howtogeek.com/181567/how-to-reduce-data-usage-when-browsing-the-web-on-a-smartphone/

    • Tracey 8.2

      Sometimes calls for tenders are to cover the shoulder tap

    • The issue isn’t that they called for tenders. It’s that the process they’re using seems to be based on gimmicky trends rather than genuinely assessing companies’ capability and appropriateness to deliver mental health services.

      And I like animated gifs, so I’m probably going to keep using them occasionally in posts.

      • Tracey 8.3.1

        Yeah, I got that Stephanie, I was responding to a specific point beyond that made by a commenter.

        Gimmicky you say… like

        Sacrificing mental health to dragons

      • Ovid 8.3.2

        I had a look at the process and this sounds like the “matchmaking” event outlined in phase 3.

        Matchmaking – where potential partnerships were formed between Service Providers and Intermediaries at a matchmaking event. This was followed up with a participant education event – providing training and education to ensure all shortlisted participants had a common understanding of social bonds and to provide access to Government-provided ‘experts’ to support the initial Solutions Outline development.

        There’s a definite whiff of managerial obfuscation coming off that page. What the heck is “competitive dialogue”? What is a “market-led procurement process” and why is it a departure from other implementations of social bonds around the world?

        • Tracey 8.3.2.1

          They could speed it all up by implementing a form of speed dating at the matchmaking… that way we dont need to cough up for lunch, just snacks

  9. adam 9

    Now I’m just wondering -if all the social democrats here realise that this is just another extension of crony capitalism, corporate capitalism, post-scarcity capitalism – add what preface to the current economic model you think appropriate. Or the next logical step for them.

    Look capitalism has been reformed – this, you know reality – is what you got. It can’t be reformed. It needs to go.

    It can’t help itself – at it’s core it has to massively destructive motivations. Monopoly and Profit. Profit can somewhat be argued as a reasonably good thing – but in a capitalist context – it just becomes cupidity. Monopoly, is just outright destructive – oil industry, arms industry, tobacco industry, mining industry – need I say more?

    There is no getting away from this under capitalism. Especially when the capitalists have no morals.

  10. cogito 10

    My understanding is that the best received presentation came from someone recommending the construction of a dedicated facility featuring the words “Work Makes You Free” above the entrance and large communal showers. The proposal came with a cast iron guarantee that none of those admitted would ever again be a burden on society.

    Government ministers are reported to be highly impressed, and have pointed out that the system was implemented in Europe some years ago and achieved amazing results.

  11. whateva next? 11

    For some people “success” is getting through the day without needing to call for help, will this be a successful “outcome”? and an Australian study showed that “slave” jobs, no rights, low pay, no satisfaction etc make people feel worse, will a job in MacDonalds be seen as “success”?
    Utterly wrong on every level, cannot find the words to express my disbelief that Nats might spin this through.

  12. Stuart Munro 12

    This is the kind of government that dies at the hands of outraged citizens. Can’t happen soon enough.

  13. Reddelusion 13

    Remind me who is out raged barring a far left minority and neostatists ( had to find all encompassing counter to neoliberal)

  14. Reddelusion 14

    When the angry citizen of the left take over we can take some comfort that socialism has no history of getting out of control and turning against their fellow citizens.

    • Grant 14.1

      You poor sad tosser. Would you like me to list all the right wing governments, paramilitaries, militias and death squads which have offended against civilian populations? Sit down and light your pipe. This could take a while….

  15. Mike the Savage One 15

    The government is lying endlessly, when they talk about “wrap around services”, extra “support” and so for persons on benefits with mental health issues. The only extra they offer is money and some more WINZ staff to provide “intensive case-management”, nothing else. That means more harassment of the target group, to take part in the trials they are already running, and there will be yet more harassment by expressing “expectations” to participate, once these “social impact bonds” will be operative.

    Wherever you go, except perhaps to youth or prison inmates, there is NO extra spending on mental health treatment and support, there are rather services being frozen, having funding capped or even cut.

    While we talk about all this “social bonds” agenda, in DHBs across the country they worry about how to fund the services they need to offer so far, and that are in increasing demand. Canterbury DHB is one facing serious challenges:
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/69306332/cuts-to-mental-health-services-possible-without-extra-funding

    Quote:
    “In November last year, Meates wrote to the ministry reporting a “crisis meeting” involving all non-government organisations, over “very close calls regarding suicide attempts and the very obvious stress being evidenced across the sector”.

    The meeting explored service reductions to “deal with the underlying distress being created”.

    In December, another email to the ministry from Meates indicated cutting services may be their only option.”

    So that does apparently not even include addiction services that are over-stretched and in high demand, for alcohol and other substance abuse, for gambling addiction and so forth.

    What MSD and WINZ are now doing can be found here (written in nice sounding language, in response to an OIA request):
    https://nzsocialjusticeblog2013.wordpress.com/2015/04/10/mental-health-and-sole-parent-employment-services-msd-withholds-o-i-a-information-that-may-prove-their-trials-a-failure/

    This is what two responses reveal about present “mental health employment services”, but they have not delivered the asked for figures for persons actually placed into jobs:

    Click to access msd-oia-rqst-mhes-waa-other-support-services-issues-reply-anon-26-02-2015.pdf

    Click to access msd-o-i-a-reply-d-power-mhes-waa-information-complete-24-04-2014.pdf

    The agenda is based on the UK approach and the application of a somewhat misinterpreted version of the “bio-psycho-social model”:
    http://nzsocialjusticeblog2013.wordpress.com/2013/09/02/medical-and-work-capability-assessments-based-on-the-controversial-bio-psycho-social-model/

    They brought in UK advisors, who have already got a controversial (or bad) reputation with disability advocacy groups there, to justify their new approach, based on scientific “research” funded by a vested interest holding insurance corporation, selling health and disability insurance policies, while the UK government cut back on welfare support for the same:
    http://nzsocialjusticeblog2013.wordpress.com/2013/09/07/the-health-and-disability-panel-and-its-hand-picked-members/

    The introduction of “social impact bonds” is the logical next step for this government, in the privatisation of welfare and health services, now changing the funding side of it. If Labour is so “surprised” they should go back and read the stuff that they once planned, which can be found also by reading this report:

    Click to access social-development.pdf

    But yes, the whole madness has to stop, if only the opposition MPs in Parliament were sincerely committed to doing so. It should NOT end with putting a stop on “social bonds”, the whole welfare reform approach needs to be reviewed, and for time being be stopped altogether.

    They are experimenting and “gambling” with the health and well-being, the safety of the mentally ill and others with serious health conditions, I fear.

  16. Lorraine 16

    This policy flies in the face of all logic of treatment for mentally ill people. It will rely heavily on the use of drugs to mask the symptoms of mental illnesses in order to get people back to work and into jobs. Those that do not cope will self medicate on alcohol, cigarettes, gambling and illegal drugs etc. There is bound to be social and justice issues with people going off these drugs that suppress the symptoms of their problems, ie. child abuse, family violence, homicide, suicide, motor vehicle accidents involving drugs or alcohol, child poverty increasing etc.
    The government refused to provide support to the largest counselling organisation and it has folded. Counselling is an ideal tool for treatment of mental illness because if progress is being mad it is usually an ongoing thing. Drug use that suppresses symptoms may appear to be more effective initially than counselling but it risks side effects from longterm use of these drugs i.e. suicide and homicides linked to the use of antidepressants. When someone suddenly stops taking drugs prescribed for mental illness they resort back to their original condition that sparked the prescription of these drugs in the first place. While counselling often does lead to improvement drugs only do not lead to improvement long term if the patient stops taking them.

  17. Ad 17

    terrific post there Steph – comedy gold.

  18. Mike the Savage One 18

    In the UK, who are according to Ministers like Bill English “leading the way” in outsourcing “effective” social services, the battle lines are drawn. The disabled though get shoved and manhandled by police, if they “dare” protest outside the House of Commons:

    “Police clash with disabled protesters as they try to storm House of Commons chamber during Prime Minister’s Questions”

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/police-clash-with-disabled-protesters-as-they-try-to-storm-house-of-commons-chamber-during-prime-ministers-questions-10342106.html

    ‘Where is the Paralympic legacy we were promised?’ asks one of the protesters in Parliament. ‘Is this it? Being beaten up in the House of Commons?'”

    So if that is where the journey is heading, prepare for the worst!

    On the following though, I commend Labour, for taking a stand for once, on the crap that goes on under this government:
    http://campaign.labour.org.nz/mental_health_closures_a_sign_of_things_to_come

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