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New acute mental health unit at Tauranga Hospital

9 August 2001

Speech Notes - Hon A King

New acute mental health unit at Tauranga Hospital

Thank you for your invitation to join you in opening this new Mental Health Unit.

Today marks the conclusion of a $6.6 million project designed to give Tauranga Hospital mental health facilities of an international standard. It is a pleasure to support and celebrate the work that has gone into this exciting project.

This is a very important day for the local community and you can all be very proud of your new facility. I would like to acknowledge the tremendous amount of time and effort that many of you have contributed into developing this new facility. I commend you for your commitment to promoting mental health services in the wider community. I would particularly like to thank the Board chairman Robin Wray, chief executive officer Ron Dunham, and chief financial officer Paul Conder - three people who actively supported the business case setting out the need for this unit, and who worked extremely hard to justify the need for it in this community. I also wish to acknowledge the clinicians within the mental health service, patients, family and iwi representatives who have contributed hugely as a community of stakeholders. The name of the new unit, Te Whare Maiangiangi, "seek new horizons", is an appropriate one, and this facility is well placed to take service delivery and health care forward under the new approach of the Government and the Bay of Plenty District Health Board. This project has had a significant degree of community interest and involvement. This interest initially arose from concerns about the existing inpatient unit, which was originally designed many years ago for people with respiratory disorders. I know local people have been keenly interested in the development of this building, particularly the Western Bay of Plenty Trust, led by Jean Haslam QSM, and iwi representatives through Te Puna Hauora.

This new, purpose-built 26-bed unit will create a safe, functional, private and pleasant environment for people needing to use mental health services. It is expected to set a benchmark for modern, best practice psychiatric inpatient care.

I understand that extensive research was carried out by project teams, including visits to other facilities around the country to gain an understanding of what features are most desirable in an acute unit of this size. The design the teams have come up with reflects both clinical and patient expectations of mental health facilities.

As you can see, the building is based on a hexagonal star shape design, with bedrooms and activity areas clustered around a central core. There is an internal courtyard at the centre of the building, complete with a rock garden.

The building has a very comfortable and welcoming feel, which extends to the outside and the extensive verandah. I understand many of the original trees on the site have been retained. A gazebo has been built in outlying areas of the garden to provide a restful private space for people to use.

All in all, it has the right balance of space for both socialising and clinical care.

Health services should meet peoples' health needs, be clinically sound, culturally safe and well coordinated. They should also be efficiently delivered. This new mental health unit has been planned in the best way possible to achieve all these aims.

Mental health treatment

It is important we remember that most people with a mental illness do not need to be in hospital. Most manage well within the community and most mental health treatment takes place in the community.

However, occasionally, just like physical illness, people need to be admitted to an acute unit. The opening of the new acute unit here meets some very important needs for people who both require treatment for mental illness in the Bay of Plenty region. One of these needs is to have mental health services clearly visible in the community.

New Zealand Health Strategy

This Government is committed to ensuring more effective use of our health resources. We want to reduce the health disparities that exist between different groups in our society and we want to meet the needs of local communities, through increasing community involvement in decision-making about plans for the health sector.

The New Zealand Health Strategy provides a framework and overview within which the health sector will develop. The Strategy shows the way forward for the sector. Mental health is central to that plan, as are primary health care and disability support services.

Mental health funding

I want to assure you that mental health is a very high priority for the Government. Last year we announced in the Budget an additional $257.4 million over the next four years for mental health.

The Government is committed to continually improving mental health services through implementing the Mental Health Commission's Blueprint.

This will result in comprehensive services that lead to: ? People with mental illnesses being treated fairly and with respect and dignity ? People with mental illness having the opportunity to participate fully in their communities free from discrimination ? More services that are easier to access and that are able to respond to a diverse range of needs more quickly. And, ? Better quality services that are able to identify and respond to needs in a way that promotes recovery.

Collaboration between providers of mental health is imperative. Hospital-based and community-based services must collaborate with each other, as well as with non-governmental providers and primary health care services. All are integral to improved co-ordination of mental health services.

It is not just a question of money. It is also a matter of working out the rate of progress the sector has the ability to sustain. A limited workforce remains one of the most significant barriers to overcome, but some of the $257 million will go towards developing this area.

Discrimination towards people with mental illness is a barrier, and an important start has been made in addressing this, most obviously with the national media campaign, Like Minds Like Mine.

Maori mental health

The Government is also particularly concerned about Maori mental health services. Maori must have the choice to access mental health services that are aligned with cultural expectations. That means there needs to be more trained Maori mental health workers.

Equally importantly there needs to be appropriate referrals, assessments and comprehensive strategies with other sectors, to ensure that peoples' full range of needs are met. Factors such as adequate housing, income and jobs for people recovering from mental illness are matters the Government will also address.

We will provide the leadership that is needed in mental health to make changes happen, and to create an environment where you can all do your jobs better. And, most importantly, where people get better services and we can make a significant impact on health outcomes for both service users and for the population as a whole.

I would like to extend my thanks to each and every one of you who have contributed your time and resources into making the original vision of this site, a reality. I am sure all here will agree that you can be very proud of this accomplishment.

This building promises to be a tremendous asset in the community. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be here today to officially open it.


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