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Mental health care crisis needs urgent attention

21 October 2008

Mental health care crisis needs urgent attention: Greens

The coroner's inquest into the death of Shane Fisher while a patient at Auckland Hospital's psychiatric acute unit will today raise questions that the Auckland District Health Board must urgently answer, Green Party Mental Health Spokesperson Sue Bradford says.

"The tragic death of Shane Fisher in May 2006 is one of a series of deaths associated with Te Whetu Tawera unit over the last two years.

"Shane's mother, Sally Fisher, has mounted a public campaign for accountability from the DHB.

"Her efforts have been supported widely in the community and by the families of other patients who have died while in the care of Auckland Hospital's mental health services," Ms Bradford says.

"The Green Party supports the call of family members for much greater accountability from the DHB when mistakes are made.

"I am not satisfied that the results of a review into ADHB's adult mental health services carried out earlier this year, at least as far as I am aware of them, address the deeper issues in Auckland," Ms Bradford says.

Some of the key questions the Green Party hopes the Auckland DHB will address at the coroner's inquest today and Wednesday include:

* What steps are being taken to reduce pressure on beds in Te Whetu Tawera so that people are not, at times, inappropriately released, and so that more careful attention is paid to the needs of patients who are, after all, acutely ill?

* Have practices in relation to working with families on the care and welfare of patients been improved?

* What is being done, if anything, to reduce the waiting period for admission to the Buchanan Clinic, the best rehabilitation facility in Auckland - and are any steps being taken to establish more quality rehabilitation beds at the clinic, or elsewhere in the district?

* Is the DHB committed to putting more resources into quality community mental health facilities so that there are more safe, supported options for people following their release from Te Whetu Tawera?

"The Green Party believes it is urgent that the Auckland DHB makes a commitment to fundamental changes in the system for the sake of patients, staff and family members. Tinkering at the edges is not enough when peoples' lives are at stake."


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