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Govt ignores mental health crisis

Govt ignores mental health crisis while people die

An urgent upgrade of New Zealand’s mental health services is needed when up eight people a year die at the hands of patients found not guilty by reason of insanity, says Dr Lynda Scott.

“We are failing these patients, their families and the families of the murder victims.

The Director of Mental Health Dr David Chaplow told Parliament yesterday that 10-16 patients were found not guilty by reason of insanity of serious offences each year, and that about half of those offences were murders.

“His revelation comes a week after the damming report on the care of Mark Burton.

“The Minister is still giving us no assurance that nationally our mental health are up to standard and that another Mark Burton case can’t happen tomorrow.

“Now we hear that half a dozen lives are taken each year in cases where mental health patients are found not guilty by reason of insanity. Many of these cases have occurred because the patients have not had the care and support they need and their families have not been listened too - the Burton and Ellis cases are examples.

“At the same time there is an investigation into district health boards siphoning off mental health money, when the Minister of Health assured the health select committee in September that mental health funding is one part of health funding that couldn’t be used for other purposes.

“When is this Government going to take mental health seriously? It is not addressing an urgent need for more acute services, longer term rehabilitation beds and the need to amend the Mental Health Act,” said Dr Scott.

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