ORANGE'S mental health services have been praised by Minister for Mental Health Jai Rowell.
Mr Rowell met with staff at the Bloomfield campus on Thursday to discuss mental health and drug and alcohol treatment for country patients.
Joined by member for Orange Andrew Gee and Western Local Health District chief executive Scott McLachlan, they visited the acute services and telehealth departments.
"The dedication of the staff and the ability to use telehealth as well - it strikes me they've come up with innovative ideas," he said.
"In rural and remote areas, there's additional challenges about the accessibility of services, but what you have here is a state-of-the-art facility."
Mr Rowell said his focus was on early intervention and to help patients maintain their wellbeing, including accommodation and employment options.
Mr McLachlan said clinicians communicating with other hospitals across the region to diagnose patients remotely had been particularly effective.
"What's really stunning is quite often, patients don't need to leave their home town to receive their treatment, but that doesn't exist everywhere in the state," he said.
He also said expanding a Condobolin-based early intervention program had been discussed - the program will start in the new year, establishing support networks around vulnerable families.
Following concerns from Sister Mary Trainor in July about the suitability of patients without family networks to be moved out of Bloomfield, Mr McLachlan said those who needed in-patient care would receive it, but investing in community-based care would benefit those who did not require acute care.
"We're looking into what that investment needs to be and in the new calendar year, we'll start that investment to make sure that takes effect, particularly in Orange knowing that patients who come to Orange from all over the state do quite often settle in Orange as their community," he said.