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New role aims to enable accessible primary mental health care

Hamilton GP Dr Maree McCracken says as the volume and complexity of mental health related issues in primary care continues to increase, it's important that general practice is supported to provide quality primary care interventions to support their patients.

Dr McCracken has recently been appointed Pinnacle MHN's medical lead/clinical director - primary mental health, a role that has been established to support Pinnacle's primary mental health service in providing treatment for patients with mild to moderate mental health issues in a community setting. 

A key focus of the role is to provide a GP liaison service between DHBs and Pinnacle MHN's GP network, providing clinical leadership to facilitate improved care in mental health and addiction.

Pinnacle MHN general manager - regional services Andrew Swanson-Dobbs says the clinical director role will enable greater collaboration, facilitating greater awareness and uptake of primary and secondary mental health services in general practice.

"We very much see this role as advocating for Pinnacle MHN's mental health services and programmes, and enabling general practice to have the support it needs to deliver those programmes. 

"At a broader level, the role will also help inform our strategic planning as we continue to adapt to the evolving health needs of our communities and look for ways to constantly improve what we offer."

Dr McCracken takes up the clinical director role as a GP at South City Health in Hamilton. She has been practicing there for four years, having completed her GP training in Dannevirke. 

She is passionate about general practice and the relationships it allows health professionals to build with patients and whānau.

"I'm also particularly passionate about equity in access to primary care for our most vulnerable, and working to make sure that care is of high quality as well as being flexible and responsive."

As clinical director - primary mental health, Dr McCracken says she hopes to represent the "GP voice" in decision making processes and develop relationships within the mental health sector to support those working in general practice.

Outside of work, Dr McCracken enjoys exploring the outdoors with her family. 

"I also like being involved in my children's school community, and I can't live without the body balance class at Les Mills gym, fresh coffee and good chocolate." 

You can contact Dr McCracken by email:

For more information on Pinnacle's primary mental health services, contact operations lead - clinical services Puamiria Maaka:

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