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Extensive changes to adult mental health servi

Press Release

Embargoed until noon on 21 Feb 2008

Auckland District Health Board makes extensive changes to its adult mental health services

The Auckland District Health Board has acknowledged the findings made by an independent external review of its adult mental health service.

The external review, which supports a series of internal reviews already completed, was commissioned by the ADHB following incidents which occurred in 2007, including two apparent suicides in the ADHB’s adult acute inpatient unit.

Fionnagh Dougan, GM Mental Health Services, said that ADHB fully accepted that there had been failings within the service, and that the external report would be used to extend the range of service improvements that have already been made.

“As the report makes clear, there have been failings within the service. Clearly this is not good enough and is deeply regrettable. We are in the process of offering our sincere apologies to representatives of the families involved,” said Ms Dougan.

“We now have a responsibility to implement the appropriate system and process changes to ensure we are providing the best possible care for all of our patients.”

As a result of both the independent external review and other internal review processes, an action plan has been developed and the following changes already implemented:

• The leadership structure within the adult acute inpatient unit has been changed with the inclusion of a nurse advisor at the level 3 partnership. This means it will now be led by a service manager, clinical director and nurse advisor. This partnership will be responsible for ensuring effective clinical decision making and practice

• An inpatient model that embraces the recovery philosophy, while being underpinned by individual risk management strategies, is being developed

• Observation procedures have been enhanced within the inpatient service

• An assertive outreach model has been established within the community service

• The range of audit tools used in Te Whetu Tawera has been increased to strengthen our current audit processes

• Plans have been developed to up-skill staff, especially in the area of dual diagnosis for patients with both mental health and drug and alcohol problems

• The position of a nurse educator has been established to support staff development

Furthermore, based on the external reviewers’ recommendations and our own desire to strengthen accountability across the mental health team, a proposal to comprehensively change the leadership and accountability structure within ADHB’s adult mental health services has been proposed. This is currently with staff for consultation.

“I would like to echo the external reviewers’ observations that many of our staff are of a very high calibre, and to thank them for their commitment to delivering high quality services for our patients,” said Ms Dougan.

“It is our goal to deliver a service that is accountable, transparent and above all provides the best possible outcomes for patients. While there are no quick fixes, we have confidence that the changes that have been made and the recommendations we are currently acting on will help us achieve this.”


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