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Labour Failing Mentally Unwell And Police

Labour Failing Mentally Unwell And Police

Tuesday 10 Jun 2003 Heather Roy Press Releases -- Health

While police have done a fantastic job plugging the gaps in the mental health system, it is not their job - prison and jail are no place for the mentally unwell, ACT New Zealand Health Spokesman Heather Roy said today.

"The situation has proven unfair, both on the mentally unwell, and on police. Cells are no place for the mentally unwell, and police are increasingly expected to paper over the cracks in our fragmented mental health system," Mrs Roy said.

"Auckland's current mental health situation is beyond crisis point - a problem largely due to a lack of acute mental health beds, and Labour's swing from in-patient care to community care. The other major problem is the severe shortage of mental health workers - it is a tribute to their dedication that there is any mental healthcare available at all.

"But, in true Government style, the pendulum has swung too far. Now there are insufficient beds for patients with acute psychiatric symptoms. This, combined with a shortage of trained workers, means that psychiatric services in the Auckland region are overstretched.

"More and more patients are slipping through the cracks of our health system. So far, police have effectively provided the only safety net, but it is unacceptable for them to be expected to do so. Prison and police cells are no place for the mentally unwell, and police are not psychiatric professionals.

"It is time that the Government began addressing these issues, and stopped failing the mentally unwell and police," Mrs Roy said.

ENDS


For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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