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Mental Health Crisis Team Desperate

May 1, 2002

The Community Assessment and Treatment Team attached to Waitakere Hospital would not have switched their phone on to answerphone last night if they were not desperate, PSA national secretary Richard Wagstaff said today.

“Our members on inpatient units have been consistently saying they will not admit patients past numbers which cause an unsafe environment. They have also been consistently calling for the implementation of some short-term solutions to the current accommodation crisis. One crucial gap in current facilities is somewhere safe to take incoming patients who are unable to be admitted to the unit due to overcrowding.”

“One of the reasons why mental health patients end up being held in police cells is because there is nowhere else for them to go. One way of alleviating the overcrowding would be the establishment of a safe containment area where patients could go and be assessed prior to being admitted to the unit.”

Richard Wagstaff said the mental health crisis was not confined to Auckland and this was confirmed with reports in the Christchurch Press today that police cells were becoming “dumping grounds” for mentally ill people.

“The police have indicated they spend a lot of time dealing with people who are mentally ill. That is not their job, neither is a police cell the appropriate place for the mentally ill.”

“While the recently-announced Mental Health Commission’s review of Auckland mental health services is a positive step, it is the immediate problems that our members are trying to draw attention to.”


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