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Burton case could still occur in NZ

Dr Lynda Scott National Health Spokesperson

31 October 2002

Burton case could still occur in NZ

The Health and Disability Commissioner's report into the care of mental health patient Mark Burton is thorough and detailed, but cases like Mark Burton's continue to happen elsewhere in New Zealand, says National Health Spokesperson Dr Lynda Scott.

"The Health and Disability Commissioner is to be congratulated for the care he has taken in investigating this case.

"When this case occurred I called for an inquiry to look at the level of delivery of mental health services around the country. The Commissioner has backed up that need in his report.

"There have been too many tragedies involving mental health patients in this country and there is nothing to stop this type of case occurring again.

"I call on the Minister of Health to immediately instruct the Ministry to conduct an inquiry into the way the 21 district health boards are providing care with a view to improving regional care and co-operation.

"New Zealanders deserve to know whether there are processes in place to stop this type of tragedy happening in their area. The review of district health boards the Minister announced this year, won't start for another year and is too little too late for many families.

"National wants amendments to the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act so that families are not shut out of the process around the care of family members with mental illness.

"Throughout the Burton case Health Minister Annette King has been sadly lacking in her response to the tragedy, and has taken no steps to reassure New Zealanders that other areas don't have a 'pattern of sloppy care that was lax and laissez-faire'.

"This, coupled with the Prime Minister's comments that the Burton's should not 'hold their breath' about an inquiry into the case, which deeply offended the family, shows the Government is itself sloppy an lax in dealing with mental health," Dr Scott said.


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