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Hillmorton Closure - Buck Stops With Govt

The closure of Canterbury's main psychiatric hospital Hillmorton is yet another casualty of the Government running down health services because it chooses not to fund the sector properly, National's Health spokesperson Roger Sowry said today.

"Closing Hillmorton, one of the two largest mental health facilities in the country, puts both the community and patients at risk. The Minister of Health must urgently step in to ensure these services are kept - if she can't she must explain why.

"This closure is because the Canterbury District Health Board is caught in the middle of an underfunding crisis created by this Government. Annette King's so-called 'funding boost' last month is obviously no use to Canterbury when it has a looming $20 million deficit in the current financial year.

"Closing Hillmorton has huge ramifications for more than 250 patients and their families. Annette King must explain to these people and future patients exactly where they are expected to go and receive treatment.

"Farming them out around the country is not the answer. For many patients the upheaval of sending them far from their support networks will be devastating. "When you have doctors spelling out the risks of violent 18-year-olds mixing with 11 year-olds it is not good enough for the Minister to blindly ignore the growing crisis she is creating in health.

"The reason New Zealand has mental health and community support services is to protect and reassure members of the community, as much as we can, while at the same time providing treatment and support to patients.

"Annette King said the buck would stop with her in health. She can't continue her 'no comment' line on such serious issues," Mr Sowry said.


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