Urgent nationwide inquiry into mental health services needed

An urgent nationwide inquiry is needed to address the strain that mental health services are under following a damning review into Waikato’s mental health services, the Green Party said today.

“Mental health services in DHBs are under-resourced and the Minister’s slow erosion of budgets has stretched services past breaking point. Families around the country need to know that mental health services are able to do their job,” Green Party health spokesperson Kevin Hague said.

Dr John Crawshaw, Director of Mental Health within the Ministry of Health, was compelled to investigate Waikato’s mental health services after a series of failures resulting in the death of Nicky Stevens, and an overseas doctor’s qualification fraud.

“The Minister needs to launch an urgent nationwide inquiry into mental health services following systemic failures that the Crawshaw report confirmed.

“Factors such as cost cutting across the health system, understaffing, high levels of change within the sector, and increased demand are national issues, and demand a nationwide response.

“Just last week, Northland’s mental health services were also reviewed and found wanting.

“Nicky's death is one of a number of preventable deaths from around the country while in DHB care and there are increasing accounts of inadequately resourced and poor quality mental health services failing to meet community needs.

“This deterioration has happened while Government has underfunded DHBs and community services, scrapped the Mental Health Commission and chosen to focus resources on targets that don't include mental health.

“Families in New Zealand need to have confidence that if they need mental health support they will be able to access it and receive the help that they need. This is not currently the case, and there needs to be a nationwide inquiry as soon as possible,” Mr Hague said.

A copy of the report into Waikato mental health services is available here.

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