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Wellington mental health crisis needs action now

23 May 2004
Wellington mental health crisis needs action now

Green MP Sue Bradford says the Minister of Health must take swift and immediate action to solve the staffing crisis at Wellington Hospital's mental health unit before another tragedy strikes.

A rape allegation reported today has followed earlier deaths and injuries among patients attributed to staff shortages at the unit.

"Wellington Hospital's mental health unit is clearly unstable and in a continual state of crisis," said Ms Bradford, the Green Party's Mental Health Spokesperson.

"I am very concerned about the safety of patients and staff in ward 27. The unit has become completely unmanageable and I don't know how much longer the remaining staff can cope. Every day that it is understaffed puts more and more pressure on the remaining nurses.

"Action must be taken to relieve this unit's immediate crisis. If the Hospital and DHB won't acknowledge how serious the situation has become, the Ministry must intervene.

"But even if the Hospital wakes up and plugs the current gaps, the Minister should initiate a full inquiry to find out what's been going wrong. There are obviously issues in the mental health sector around recruitment, training and professional development that need addressing, but there may also be questions that need to be answered about this specific situation.

"Like most social sector workers, mental health nurses are motivated by compassion and a willingness to confront everyday the problems that many people in our society would prefer to ignore. They deserve our utmost respect and support in the form of decent and appropriate remuneration and conditions, not under-resourced facilities and afterthought-level funding," said Ms Bradford.

ENDS

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