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Bradford Supports Mental Health Industrial Action

01 May 2002

Green Party Mental Health spokesperson Sue Bradford today recognised the desperation of the CATT team at Waitakere Hospital last night in refusing to accept more patients because of a lack of beds.

"It's an indictment on hospital management, district health boards and Government that it's been left up to mental health workers to blow the whistle on unsafe practices," she said.

"I sympathise with how hard it must be for a mental health crisis unit to potentially deny care to acute patients.

"This industrial action reflects the fact that these front-line staff are closest to the action, and their concerns have to be taken seriously before either a patient or mental health worker is harmed or dies." Ms Bradford said the crisis in West and North Auckland was the direct result of years of under-funding of mental health services.

"There is a shortage of acute beds in all parts of Auckland, which is leading to dangerously overcrowded conditions with some patients ending up in police cells, and many more sleeping on hospital floors, in corridors, and in general wards.

"Other patients have been pushed out into the community when they are still seriously ill, without adequate support services. We've just seen how vulnerable seriously mentally ill patients can be with reports yesterday of a young man who committed suicide after being abandoned by a CATT team for five days.

"I tried yesterday in Parliament to get answers from the Minister of Health about what the Government is doing to improve the situation, but all they can talk about is further reviews rather than immediate action. "The Government says it is doing everything it can do to implement the Mental Health Blueprint. But the yawning gaps in the system are becoming irreparably dangerous."

Ends

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