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Mental Health at Wellington Hospital a disgrace

15 August 2005

Mental Health at Wellington Hospital a disgrace, say Greens

Reports that the acute psychiatric unit in Wellington were so full last week police had problems getting a place for a man arrested walking down the street brandishing hunting knives, have left the Green Party's Mental Health Issues Spokesperson Sue Bradford dismayed.

"The situation at Wellington Hospital is an ongoing disgrace. It is just not acceptable another patient had to be moved to a motel overnight to make room for the man. This is just the latest in a number of serious incidents in recent years involving patients, and a sequence of inquiries and reviews.

"The most recent review team reported back in April this year, making a number of urgent recommendations including increasing staff numbers, reducing overcrowding in Ward 27, and reviewing the adequacy of a single crisis service for the region.

"To the best of my knowledge there are still problems with patient overcrowding, high staff turnover, staff to patient ratios being below acceptable levels, and lack of quality step down accommodation options at Ward 27."

Last year Capital and Coast Health faltered on its commitment to go ahead with a purpose built acute unit for people with mental illness, Ms Bradford said.

"I was appalled when this was stalled by yet another review. The latest review was supposed to report back this month - August 2005. Capital and Coast Health can't be allowed to go on procrastinating.

"If they won't act with as much as speed as they can muster both to improve the short and long term situation for people with mental illness in this region, the Minister must step in.

"The current situation is totally unacceptable from a patient, staff, family and community perspective."

The Green Party believes DHBs must take more responsibility for providing adequate facilities and staff for people with mental illness, both inside hospitals and in the community. The current policy in some districts seems to be one of 'wait and see and let's hope the problem disappears' - which of course it never does, Ms Bradford said.

ENDS

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