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Urgent action needed on mental health services


2 September 2008

Death raises need for urgent action on mental health services

Problems at Auckland Hospital's acute psychiatric unit will come under the spotlight in Parliament this afternoon when Green Party MP Sue Bradford questions the Health Minister about another tragedy associated with the Te Whetu Tawera unit.

"I have been informed that Selwyn Wallace, the man whose body was found floating under Wynyard Wharf in Auckland on Sunday, 17 August, had been discharged from the acute unit a very short time before he died," Ms Bradford says.

"Questions about this case need answers now. I want to know why the decision to discharge him was made, and did he have adequate support for his health and accommodation needs at the time he was released from the unit? New Zealand needs to know whether this tragic case could have been avoided.

"This is just another of many cases that seem to indicate that something is awry in Auckland's mental health services. It is time to shed some light on those cases to ascertain whether patients are receiving the care and treatment they need and deserve.

"It is not good enough that people are continuing to die in a mental health system, where the pressure on beds in inpatient units is extreme, and where there is manifestly inadequate provision of supported housing and health services for some people when they are released from hospital.

"The Green Party calls on the Government to look seriously at what exactly is happening with Auckland's Te Whetu Tawera unit, and with the associated lack of rehabilitation, community support and step down accommodation services.

"This is a long term, structural problem that needs urgent, structural solutions before more patients die."

ENDS

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