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Answers urgently needed on Hillmorton Hospital

Jonathan Coleman MP
National Party Associate Health Spokesman

20 March 2008

Answers urgently needed on Hillmorton Hospital

Worrying questions about patient safety at Christchurch’s Hillmorton Hosptial need immediate investigation followed by swift action, says National’s Associate Health spokesman, Dr Jonathan Coleman.

“Two unexpected deaths in 48 hours and another earlier this year mean that public confidence in psychiatric services in Christchurch is at an all-time low.

“These deaths follow a terrible incident last year in which a man was rendered tetrapalegic after a fight in the in-patient unit at the hospital. There have been other concerns about the unit over the past three months, including reports of dangerous patients being allowed to leave the hospital, and a bed crisis in December that saw 11 unwell patients turfed out of the unit.

“The independent inquiry needs to be conducted urgently to identify the circumstances behind these tragedies. There shouldn’t be a rush to judgment, but there needs to be a tight time frame for reporting.

“There is a very real possibility that other lives will be at risk at this unit until the causes of these deaths are known and, swift, remedial action is taken.

“It’s hard to believe that $1 billion a year is being spent on mental health in New Zealand, yet things seem to be getting worse, not better.”

ENDS

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