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Govt Ignores Nationwide Mental Health Crisis

2 May 2002

The deafening silence of the Ministers of Health and Disability over the mental health crisis hitting all around the country is simply irresponsible, National Disability and Associate Health Spokesperson Dr Lynda Scott said today.

"Psychiatric patients have been dumped in prisons in Auckland and Christchurch and are sleeping on the floors in the crowded Dunedin Hospitals because there are not enough facilities or staff for them.

"This Government treats psychiatric patients like second-class citizens by allowing deinstitutionalisation to go too far and not providing adequate support services to these people and their families who need help.

"The staff at Waitakere Hospital are between a rock and a hard place trying to cope with an influx of patients. They are short of accommodation for patients because they refuse to admit more patients than they know they can safely handle.

"The only answer the Minister has provided in the past is that she has asked for a review of Auckland mental health services. The community wants action now not just a review that can't achieve anything for at least six months.

"We are asking why the Minister of Health and Minister of Disability Issues are so silent on this issue? The answer is simply that they've let a crisis develop and they are now putting dealing with it in the too hard basket.

"National wants a complete review of the Mental Health Act so that families can have input into the care of mental health patients. More inpatient beds are needed around the country and the reason there are crises in Dunedin, Christchurch and Auckland is that this Government has let deinstitutionalisation go too far," Dr Scott said.


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