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Need Good Psychiatric Care? Kill Someone

Need Good Psychiatric Care? Kill Someone

Tuesday 14 Sep 2004

Heather Roy - Press Releases - Health

ACT New Zealand Health Spokesman Heather Roy today predicted that we would continue to see more tragedies, like the murder by mentally ill Otaki man Jesse Moore, until the Government accepts that it is not providing adequate facilities for the assessment of those suspected of being a danger to themselves and others.

"At a time when Corrections is drowning under huge prison population growth, people with mental illnesses are being recognised in increasing numbers - an overdue sign that the problems of the mentally ill are numerous and complicated," Mrs Roy said.

"But the facilities needed to treat these prisoners appropriately have not increased at the same pace and the threshold for immediate assessment continues to rise to unacceptable levels - as evidenced in the Jesse Moore case.

"Health Minister Annette King finds it expedient to let blame for bad outcomes fall on the last person to have seen a patient. But, when similar events occur repeatedly, she must acknowledge that the system - not individuals - is responsible.

"The Minister's main goal, however, is to make sure the buck stops with someone else. As she, herself, said in Opposition: `This is no way to run a health system'.

"Purehurehu - the Wellington Region's Porirua-based forensic psychiatric unit -has 24 beds and, at any given time, around two thirds are devoted to long-term patients. This leaves around eight beds for short-term assessment, and the unit is constantly in a bed state crisis.

"It appears that, under this Government, the only way to gain access to one of these beds is to commit a serious crime, while every other case must be dealt with in the community. There are tragedies just waiting to happen. The message Labour is sending to the public is this - to get good psychiatric care, commit a murder," Mrs Roy said.

ENDS

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