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King's Treatment of Mentally Ill is Shameful

King's Treatment of Mentally Ill is Shameful

It is shameful for Health Minister Annette King to allow mentally unwell patients to be locked in police cells and shunted onto mattresses on hospital floors because of a lack of acute psychiatric beds, ACT Health Spokesman Heather Roy said today.

"We are seeing the results of the hugely dangerous combination of under funding and a sharp shift to inadequate community care and inpatient facilities. More and more psychiatric patients are slipping through the cracks.

"Last week I asked the Minister of Health Annette King to guarantee that mentally ill patients would not be forced to sleep in hospital corridors or on hospital floors. She said she would not make such a guarantee.

"This week we hear yet more stories of the mentally ill being locked in police cells because there is nowhere else for them. This is not a new practice - in fact Mrs King used to find it atrocious when she was in Opposition.

"In a press statement in July 1988 Mrs King said, "People who have mental illnesses should receive appropriate care in an appropriate environment, not be forced to bunk down where ever there is space".

"The Minister is now guilty of hypocrisy and callous disregard for the rights of mental health patients. It is time for Mrs King to stop blaming others for the inadequacies of the mental health system and take responsibility so that the mentally ill receive the treatment they deserve," Mrs Roy said.

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