Members of the Alliance for Better Access, an informal coalition that is campaigning against cuts to funded psychology sessions and GP rebates under the Federal Government’s Better Access program, are cranky with Croakey for not running an article they submitted, and have written about this here.
A few points of clarification might be helpful:
• When I was on leave Jennifer Doggett put up this post from psychiatrist Pat McGorry based on his presentation to the recent Senate inquiry into the Commonwealth funding and administration of mental health services, in which he argued the need for more mental health funding and for new systems of care to help those missing out, including those affected by the Better Access changes. He also wrote of divisions within the mental health sector: “Our whole sector needs to behave in a more mature manner, eschew public conflict and partner better with the community, including the business community.”
• Mark Thompson (whom I gather is associated with the Alliance for Better Access) posted a comment critiquing the McGorry piece and stating: “If Crikey were to have credibility as a source perhaps all views may receive blog space.”
• Doggett responded that “Croakey would be delighted to publish commentary on the Senate Inquiry or the mental health reforms more generally from any mental health experts or stakeholders who care to contribute”. (There had already been a lengthy debate at Croakey on related issues, prompted by an article by Tim Woodruff).
• I returned from leave to a piece from a psychologist, Ben Mullings, written in response to Doggett’s invitation, on behalf of the Alliance for Better Access (a modified version of this piece has now been published by the Alliance).
• As I subsequently wrote to Mullings, I am currently working on a long article on mental health reform. It is a paid commission – ie not for Croakey, and and is one reason I have not been writing about Better Access and related matters at Croakey recently. Generally if I have a commission on a particular topic I do not cover it at Croakey as this may compromise my position with the commissioning publishers. As a result, four pieces submitted on mental health reforms (including the one from Mullings) in recent weeks have not been posted at Croakey.
This does not mean that mental health reform will not be discussed at Croakey, however. It is just a matter of timing. For those who seem to think there is some conspiracy not to cover mental health reform at Croakey, there has already been substantial discussion of budget mental health announcements.
Separate to this, however, as I also indicated to Mullings, I had concerns with his piece as originally submitted. It made a number of potentially damaging allegations against un-named but clearly identifiable individuals. It also contained some statements in need of clarification. It is inaccurate to say that Mullings has not had the opportunity to present his point of view at Croakey (as has been intimated). He has previously published lengthy comments on Woodruff’s piece.
• I acknowledge that I could have done a better job of communicating these issues to Mullings. But given the time/resource constraints that Croakey operates under, it is not uncommon for things to fall through the cracks. I am not always able to respond to correspondents as promptly or in as much detail as would be ideal.
(And apologies to others who have submitted posts but not heard more from me…it is also quite common for posts to languish for some time til I get a chance to consider and process them. Some, I must confess, have slipped through the cracks.)
Perhaps it also needs clarifying more generally that that not all submissions to Croakey are published. The blog’s focus is public health, health policy and under-served issues, and it was initially set up for publishing articles by members of the Crikey Health and Medical Panel, although increasingly submissions are made from others.
I reserve the right not to publish submissions that I do not think useful or relevant for readers. To reiterate what is already expressed elsewhere on the blog: it should not be assumed that I personally agree with all articles posted. I am happy to post pieces with which I personally disagree if I think they add usefully to debate.
• The long and short of all this is that for those readers with an interest in mental health reform, I hope to publish an in-depth article elsewhere in coming weeks and will post links at the time.
In the meantime, you can get some idea of the complexities and competing interests in the Better Access debate from the Senate report, which is worth reading (not least for the acrimonious divisions that it reveals within the psychology profession), and can be downloaded here.