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Court highlights problems in Auckland mental healt

Health/Industrial Relations reporters
December 24, 2002

Court highlights problems in Auckland mental health services

PSA Auckland mental health nurses are being required by the Employmernt Court to continue working in what is freely acknowledged to be a highly volatile and dangerous environment.

An injunction filed by Counties Manukau District Health Board to stop further industrial action over Christmas was granted by the Court today.

PSA national secretary Richard Wagstaff says members will be deeply disappointed by the Court’s decision and fearful for the consequences. However, they can take some satisfaction from knowing that their ongoing action and concerns for the health and safety of mental health patients and staff have been acknowledged in the Employment Court.

Judge Colgan said the case had exposed the inadequacy of resources that has led to the current crisis in Auckland mental health services with acutely ill patients being denied appropriate care and treatment in hospital.

“The judge gave a very clear signal that, in his own words, it is time for those responsible to consider what has happened and how it can be avoided in the future, by clinical rather than legal means,” says Richard Wagstaff.

In announcing his decision, Judge Colgan said the case should also encourage, rather than discourage, ongoing consultation and discussion between union members and management. Consultation is a requirement of the existing partnership for quality agreement which the judge described as a remarkable and welcome feature of the case.

“The judge has made it absolutely clear that there is a pressing need for both more resources and a proper process of consultation. We shall be looking to the the health board and to government to ensure that both of these occur,” says Richard Wagstaff.


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