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Pressure mounts on Govt over mental health crisis

Pressure mounting on Government over mental health crisis

Green MP Sue Bradford will today challenge Health Minister Annette King in parliament over a long overdue report which is expected to point to a meltdown of mental health services in the Auckland region.

"With every passing day the mental health crisis in New Zealand is worsening, with yet more cases of mentally ill people being locked in police cells, news of DHBs squandering their mental health funding in other areas and the ongoing and unexplained delays in this crucial and anticipated report," said Ms Bradford.

"All sectors are expecting this report to be highly critical of mental health services in the Auckland region and I cannot understand the repeated delays. First this report was due at the end of August, then the end of September, then the end of October and now we have no idea when.

"This is just not good enough and I will be asking Mrs King to explain what is going on with this report during question time this afternoon."

Ms Bradford said she would also be challenging the Minister to explain her comments to parliament on October 8 that 'there are now additional beds being provided for forensic patients in Auckland... [and]... while the review has been carried out, step-down beds have been added in the Auckland area.'

"It's all very well to tell parliament this, but in response to three written questions (numbers 11229, 11230, 11231) seeking confirmation of this statement the Minister was unable to confirm the existence of any new beds in the Auckland region. I will be challenging her again in parliament today to back up this statement with evidence," she said.

"This appalling situation has been allowed to go on for far too long. Over the weekend we had four more mentally ill patients locked in police cells due to lack of beds. They were still there last night, are they still there now?"

Ms Bradford said if the Auckland report accurately reflected the reality of mental health services she could understand the wish to delay it as long as possible.

"This report simply must come out if we are to finally make some progress on mental health in New Zealand. The longer reports like this are delayed the longer our mentally ill people, and the communities they live in, will continue to be compromised by seriously inadequate care."

Sue will be asking oral question number four on this issue during question time this afternoon

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