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Mental health disaster waiting to happen - King

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The Government's refusal to supply vital a mental health drug to violent mental health patient is a disaster waiting to happen, Labour's Health spokesperson Annette King said today

Annette King said that a desperate mental health clinician had written to Labour because he was left with no option following the decision by Health Benefits Limited (HBL) to refuse to fund Olanzapine.

Dr Taylor wrote to HBL seeking a Special Authority because his patient, with severe schizo-affective disorder, and who has record of violence and self-harm, was unresponsive to other medications. Dr Taylor found that Olanzapine, which is one of the new generation of atypical anti-psychotic agents, had made a spectacular improvement for this patient.

"HBL claimed that no more people will get Olanzapine because 'total approvals that have now been issued has reached the maximum number that can be sustained with the limited funding…we are unable to issue further approvals for new patients.'

"Now this patient and the mental health staff responsible for his care are left with no option but to treat him with drugs they know will not work and left hoping that he does not hurt himself or others.

"How many other people with mental illness are left in limbo by short-sighted decision like this, and will we have to wait for another disaster and subsequent report before any sense prevails?

"While Mr Creech crowed this week about how National had improved mental health services, this demonstrates just how cynical National's health policy is.

"National talks about improving access to services, but when it comes to actually providing the care, they fail. National is refusing to provide the medication needed to prevent another mental health disaster from happening.

"National has not committed to implementing the Blueprint for Mental Health Services, developed by the Mental Health Commission, which includes specific benchmarks for access to new atypical anti-psychotic agents, and the result will be more tragedies.

"Labour will implement the Blueprint for Mental Health Services, because improving the mental health services, and protecting both the public and people with mental illness, is a top priority for the new Labour government," Annette King said.

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