Press Release – New Zealand Labour Party
National must show leadership in mental health The National-led government needs to show leadership and take urgent action to improve acute mental health services in Auckland before further violence and tragedies occur, says Labour’s Health spokesperson …
2 October 2011 MEDIA STATEMENT
National must show leadership in mental health
The National-led government needs to show leadership and take urgent action to improve acute mental health services in Auckland before further violence and tragedies occur, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Grant Robertson.
“The news today that a patient released from Te Whetu Tawera, the acute mental health unit at the Auckland DHB, has seriously injured a member of his family and threatened and frightened others is tragic,” Grant Robertson said.
”It is also sadly predictable as the unit seeks to reduce the number of patients in the face of safety concerns.
“I raised my concerns about the unit in Parliament last week, in the wake of a tripling of assaults in the unit in recent years and the decision to reduce bed numbers,” Grant Robertson said.
“The government in the form of Associate Health Minister Jonathan Coleman continued to insist that things were fine. He seemed more interested in attacking the last Labour government than actually addressing the problems at the unit.
“Now we learn that Minister Coleman and Health Minister Tony Ryall knew about this serious assault when they were answering questions last week,” Grant Robertson said. “That makes their denials even more reprehensible. They need to act ensure the well-being and safety of patients, their families, staff at the unit and the wider community.
“There needs to be an urgent independent review of mental health services in Auckland, and a regional plan to deal with acute patients where the unit cannot house them.
“Community mental health services are struggling in any case without the added burden of acute patients being released because of pressure at the unit,” Grant Robertson said.
“Ministers Ryall and Coleman have been for too complacent about what’s happening in terms of mental health in Auckland. It is a serious situation and the government needs to show leadership to ensure safety instead of trying to pretend that everything is fine,” Grant Robertson said.