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Mental Health Patients Second-Rate Citizens

11 April 2002

Mental Health Patients Second-Rate Citizens Under Current Govt

The lack of mental health beds in Auckland's hospitals is a disgrace after three years of promises of better health services by Health Minister Annette King, Associate Health Spokesperson Dr Paul Hutchison said today.

"The Minister has to answer why there wasn't an acute or intensive care bed to be found in Auckland last night to cater for emergency mental health patients. Instead there have been cases of patients going to prison and being guarded overnight. Is this the better health system she promised before the last election?

"The lack of in-patient beds is the result of the Government taking the drive towards community-based care too far. Clearly some mental health patients require hospitalisation, but instead they are going to prison, just being left to their own devices in the community or with family who can't cope.

"There should be facilities available for these people. While the Minister blames a bed shortage on staff recruitment difficulties, the true picture is mental health staff say there are enough staff to operate more beds in Auckland, but Annette King has failed to ensure the funding has been utilised for this.

"The Minister has had more than two and a half years to make a change. Instead she's leading New Zealanders into more industrial action and turmoil due to underfunding and underresourcing and mental health patients are being treated as second-rate citizens," Dr Hutchison said.

Ends

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