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Mental health crisis will cost lives

Dr Lynda Scott National Health and Disability Spokesperson

17 March 2002

Mental health crisis will cost lives

National is calling for urgent action to address a growing mental health crisis in Auckland where patients are staying in prisoner cells and mental health workers are predicting dangerous patients will take lives.

National Disability Spokesperson Dr Lynda Scott says reports today that mental health patients are staying in Auckland police cells for several days because there aren't enough beds in mental health facilities show the Government is ignoring the crisis.

"Throwing money at mental health is not working. The relevant Ministers need to get more beds up and running immediately, rather than just talking about providing more beds.

"I am most alarmed at the mental health workers warnings that another Malcolm Beggs case could happen any day. This is a cry for help from the people who know, but who are so exhausted they are leaving their jobs in droves because it has become too hard to help people without the resources. "The Government promised four months ago that it was injecting funding for "immediate action" to address serious mental health problems in Auckland, including the purchase of 20 "packages of care/beds".

"What has happened to that immediate action when we have mental health workers so desperate and concerned for their patients that they are going to the media and leaving their jobs in disgust?"

"I know of cases where the circumstances are just the same as that of Malcolm Beggs and Lachlan Jones. That resulted in two deaths. We shouldn't have to sit around wait for more lives to be lost before we get more mental health beds for these vulnerable patients and their families," Dr Scott said.


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