More mentally ill locked in police cells
Green Mental Health Spokesperson Sue Bradford today said it was unacceptable that over the last two weekends mental health patients in Auckland had been locked in police cells due to a lack of acute beds.
"It is an indictment on the mental health system that, during Mental Health Awareness Week, the Minister seems to be accepting the use of police cells for detaining mental health patients in the ongoing absence of sufficient facilities in the Auckland area," said Ms Bradford.
"In response to my questions in parliament this afternoon Health Minister Annette King said more step-down beds have been provided for mental health patients. This is the first I have heard on this and clearly there are still nowhere near enough to accommodate the needs of our mentally ill.
"I would also like to know how many of these new beds are in the Waitemata area and when they came on stream."
Ms Bradford said was concerned that a Mental Health Commission report, due at the end of September, had been delayed by another month.
"There are a lot of people waiting with a great deal of interest in this report as it promises to thoroughly investigate the ongoing shortage of mental health services in Auckland.
"More than that, however, I hope this report will outline a clear course of action and that the Government will enable the DHBs in Auckland to finally establish sufficient service levels that adequately meet the needs of our population.
"These mental health needs have not been met for decades," she said.
Ms Bradford said she was disappointed that despite raising issues about the use of police cells to make up for a failing mental health system in the past, no progress appeared to have been made.
"Indeed, in light of the Minister's answers in parliament this afternoon the Government's attitude on the use of this practice seems to be one of resigned acceptance."