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This telehealth service changed Fiona’s life, but now it’s out of money

A world-first telehealth psychiatry service is at risk of closing despite needing only $400,000 a year to survive, amid a growing push for a payroll tax levy to help fund NSW’s ballooning healthcare bill.

The NSW government, the University of Sydney and icare, the state-owned workplace insurer, spent $650,000 in March 2023 to offer telehealth psychiatry services for people with traumatic brain injuries across the state.

The money runs out in September and no funds have been allocated in the June state budget to keep it operational.

Professor Leanne Togher, a speech pathologist and brain injury specialist who helped set up the pilot program, said many of the people in the scheme lived in rural areas and had never seen a specialist for the complex mental health issues they developed after their brain injuries.

Many will be “back on their own” if the service does not receive the $400,000 a year it needs to keep going, she said.

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