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Minister As Much To Blame As 'P'

Minister As Much To Blame As 'P'

ACT New Zealand Health Spokesman Heather Roy today said that no one should be at all surprised that increased violence by psychiatric patients - fuelled more and more by drugs and alcohol - was forcing mental health nurses to quit the profession.

"Dual diagnosis - mentally ill patients abusing drugs and alcohol - is being seen more and more by mental health workers, especially with the rapid spread of `P'," Mrs Roy said.

"This condition is frequently accompanied by violent behaviour, and the trend away from in-patient care - to predominantly community care - has seen this problem worsen over recent years, creating added pressure to already stressed mental health staff.

"No one doubts that our mental health workers are worth more - and, in most cases, District Health Boards would like to be in a position to increase salaries and attract well-qualified, experienced staff. But Health Minister Annette King has put them in an impossible position.

"In each of the past four Budgets, Ms King has allocated only 2.55 percent of health funding to DHBs to cover wage and salary increases. Any increases beyond that 2.55 percent means that the DHB's budgets must suffer elsewhere.

"It is time that the Minister accepted responsibility for the problems plaguing DHBs and mental health staff. Until she does so, the cycle of tragedy she railed about in Opposition will continue to worsen under her watch," Mrs Roy said.

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