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Govt Underfunding Closes Alcohol Unit

8 January 2002

Canterbury Area Health Board and the Minister of Health need to immediately address risks to patients and the community by the closing of Hillmorton's detoxification unit, National's Health spokesperson Roger Sowry said today. "The board is saying last month's strike and staff shortages have forced the closure of the unit. These necessary services are closing because of Government underfunding.

"What we are seeing is this Government running down and closing essential health services. This closure was not in its list of promises before the last election.

"Addicts are already turning up to centres that can't treat their addictions. The Minister and the board need to address the situation immediately to prevent tragedies happening in the community.

"This brings back the memories of mental health services losing out when Helen Clark was Minister of Health. Now Annette King's reforms are closing down support services such as Hillmorton.

"The Minister must heed the warning of Canterbury District Health Board's clinical director of mental health services Dr Alfred Dell'Ario who says 'you are running a service that you know is not what it could be. You know it is not as safe as it could be and it is very difficult to be responsible for that'.

"Hanmer's youth drug and alcohol unit being under threat due to lack of funding is also of great concern. This is a unique youth specialist programme with a proven record of success and if we lose it we lose clinical expertise as well as a vital service for our youth.

"National funded the youth programme at Hanmer but it looks like this Government is pulling funding and again cutting services.

"The public and patients need an assurance that either these services will be restored or others can adequately take their place," Mr Sowry said.

Ends

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