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Et Tu Brute!

Et Tu Brute!

ACT spokesman for mental health, Heather Roy said that the findings of the Ellis Inquiry into mental health services in South Auckland released today highlights exactly what has changed in mental health in recent years - nothing!

"Services were found to be inadequate but there was no one factor, incident or person within the service responsible for the tragedy that occurred," Mrs Roy said.

"The question should not be what went wrong - for years now the cycle has been the same - but why is the mental health system fragmented and failing these truly vulnerable members of society, along with their families?

"In December 1998 the then opposition spokesman for health, Annette King, released a media statement quoting the National Minister of Health as saying `we have a cycle of tragedy - followed by investigations - then recommendations which appear to make no difference - then frustration - followed by rounds of people blaming each other - and finally a further tragedy to kick-start it all off again'. She followed this description with the comment `this is no way to run a health system'.

"Perhaps today, following a series of tragedies occurring on her watch she could tell us exactly what it is that has changed. Nothing. Annette King is negligent in her duty to protect the mentally ill.

"Stress from understaffing, DHBs having to compete with better working conditions and pay overseas, and a desperate lack of hospital beds for critically ill patients, have been growing problems for many years. Our demoralised health professionals are left to cope alone at the coalface and when tragedy strikes they are left to take the blame while this Teflon Minister of Health devolves herself of any responsibility for providing a safe environment for patients and staff alike.

"Until Annette King accepts her Ministerial responsibility we just wait and count down until the next tragedy strikes," said Mrs Roy.

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