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Mental Health Act ignores families

Dr Lynda Scott

National Health Spokesperson

22 September 2002

Mental Health Act ignores families

National's Health spokesperson, Dr Lynda Scott, is calling for changes to the Mental Health (Compulsory Care) Act to stop families being shut out of the diagnosis and treatment process.

"The result of the Paul Ellis case - with Ellis being found not guilty of the murder of his father by reason of insanity - demonstrates once again the failure of the health system to provide appropriate in-patient mental health care.

"The Ellis case, like the Mark Burton case, highlights the tragedy that can strike. Families want to know why seriously unwell patients are being discharged from hospital care into community care, with appalling consequences.

"The Mental Health (Compulsory Care) Act must be amended, particularly the committal process. This process is too hard and the definition of 'dangerous' is too low.

"The Government is ignoring the urgency of the problem. Annette King has shunned my call, in support of many New Zealand families, for a review of the Act. I urge her to listen before we see any more tragedies like that suffered by the Ellis and Burton families," says Dr Scott.


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