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Not Enough Mental Health Beds In Auckland

17 April 2002

Not Enough Mental Health Beds For Patients Like Mark Burton

The sad case of the Burton family may have been avoided if there was not such an acute shortage of mental health beds and Mark Burton was not the subject of outdated mental health legislation, National Associate Health Spokesperson Dr Lynda Scott said today.

"Mental Health is in crisis with Auckland patients having to stay in prisons overnight and mental health units likely to close because of industrial action.

"National wants a review of the Mental Health Act so that families like the Burton's have input into the care of mental health patients.

"Sadly though even if this was implemented tomorrow there are not enough in-patient beds for people like Mark Burton when they need help.

"Annette King's review of mental health services in Auckland is just another review that won't provide any answers or results for at least five months. Families like Mark Burton's and countless others need answers now.

"Labour campaigned on better health services before the last election but Annette King has avoided fronting up on mental health.

"Despite questions for more than two years on this case New Zealanders still have no idea whether mental health services in other parts of the country are any better or any worse than that provided to Mark Burton in Invercargill. This is because the Government has ignored our call for an inquiry into mental health services around the country.

"Today's Coroner's report, understandably, doesn't provide all the answers. It is the Minister of Health who is responsible for mental health services but she won't face the music.

"Deinstitutionalisation has gone too far and the Mental Health (Compulsory Care) Act 1992 needs to be reviewed and amended," Dr Scott said.


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