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Data Regarding Mental Health Assaults Misleading – SST

For Immediate Release

30 September 2013

Data Regarding Mental Health Assaults Misleading – SST

Data collection methods used to produce a report into mental health statistics have been called into question by the Sensible Sentencing Trust.

The concerns have been highlighted due to discrepancies in a Health Quality and Safety Commission report into serious adverse events released last week, which contained figures relating to assaults by patients on mental health staff which differ substantially from figures obtained by the Sensible Sentencing Trust.

The Trust’s spokesman on mental health issues, Graeme Moyle, is critical of the way in which the data was collected.

“This report claims that there were eight allegations of serious adverse behaviour by mental health inpatients assaulting staff, other patients or committing criminal acts in the 12 months between July 2012 and June 2013” Mr Moyle says, “I know for a fact that there were 2314 assaults on staff in 2012 and a further 820 assaults by inpatients on other patients, family members or visitors in the same year, a difference of 3126. This scale of misreporting is scandalous and calls into question any previous work produced by this office”.

Mr Moyle says the difference in the figures is easily explained and points the finger at ‘lazy’ bureaucrats.

“The information I have was obtained through the Official Information Act and was provided by each of the 20 individual District Health Boards. The HQS Commission, on the other hand, naively accepted information voluntarily from the DHBs. Rather than providing information, this method of data collection has resulted in serious misinformation, leading to a report that is worthless and unreliable”.

“What makes this worse is that the DHBs had the information at their fingertips as a result of my inquiries and appear to have deliberately withheld it from the HQS Commission”.

“Sadly this is not unusual when requesting information relating to mental health issues” says Mr Moyle, “trying to get reliable information relating to mental illness, particularly in relation to the justice system, is like pulling teeth”.

The report also looked at suicide statistics which Mr Moyle says are also now discredited due to the unreliable method of collecting the data.

“This report is a gross waste of time and taxpayers money, the HSQ Commission should be ashamed and embarrassed that it has produced such a meaningless report. If this office was serious about its work they would get out of the air conditioned comfort of their office and collect the information themselves rather than relying on the District Health Boards to volunteer it. Until then, anything this office produces must be treated with suspicion and contempt” Moyle says.

ENDS

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