Health Minister sitting idle as mentally ill New Zealanders suffer & die

The Green Party is reiterating its call for Health Minister Jonathan Coleman to urgently undertake an inquiry into mental health services, or risk more people needlessly suffering and dying because of inadequate care and oversight.

The call comes after the release of a damning ombudsman’s report into the treatment of Ashley Peacock, and after the mother of Wellington man Samuel Fischer has spoken out about issues with the care her son received from Capital and Coast District Health Board leading up to his death.

“The Health Minister has repeatedly resisted my calls for an inquiry into mental health services, but as one appalling case after another comes to light, it is unfathomable that he would continue to do so,” said Green Party health spokesperson Kevin Hague.

“The mental health care system is failing in this country. New Zealanders are unduly suffering and dying because they are not receiving the mental health care they desperately need.

“Mental health services are stretched beyond breaking point, and when they break, people die and families suffer.

“The ongoing seclusion and treatment of Ashley Peacock, which the Ombudsman has described as degrading and cruel, and the death of Samuel Fischer are illustrations of what happens when doctors and nurses have to work under a Government which cuts the budget, refuses to set targets for treatment, and removes important oversight measures, such as the Mental Health Commission.

“Worryingly, when theses tragic events and system failures are exposed, there is a lack of accountability from DHB services and the Government, and a desire for issues to be papered over and forgotten.

“For the families of Ashley Peacock, Samuel Fischer and Nicky Stevens, the pain that they feel cannot be papered over or forgotten.

“Jonathan Coleman owes these families, and everyone who relies on mental health services, a far-reaching and full inquiry.

“If he doesn’t take that step, more New Zealanders are going to suffer and die as a result of underfunded, inadequate mental health services,” said Mr Hague.

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