GP letter more evidence of failure in mental health
A letter of complaint by medical practitioners to the Ministry of Health and Capital and Coast District Health Board
underlines how badly patients are being let down by mental health services in Wellington, says Labour Leader Jacinda
“The complaint from the Khandallah and Ngaio medical centres in the Capital shows just how stressed our mental health
system is. It’s simply unacceptable after nine years of this government that patients are not getting the timely care
they need. I really feel for these doctors who are struggling to get the support they need.
“The letter, obtained by Labour under the Official Information Act, says one patient who was seriously suicidal had to
stay in the GP practice to close to midnight. Three GPs had to look after the patient as the capital’s Crisis and
Assessment Team were too busy to help.
“They say ‘our mental health services are very under resourced and as a result patients are dying and severely mentally
ill people cannot get the help they require. This is unacceptable.’
“The doctors go on to say ‘we have experienced three adult suicides in the past month.’ The GPs say this is
unprecedented in their experience.
“They say in another case a patient who was discharged after their third suicide attempt in a year had a psychiatric
consultation but was then only offered a written referral and a phone conversation.
“It also worries me that our police are having to become more and involved in acute psychiatric cases.
“This is not an isolated situation. As I travel the country, I hear similar stories from families and practitioners who
say mental health services are just not coping. Patients and their families are suffering. We can do better than this.
“Labour will take action to fix this. We will reinvest $8 billion more over the next four years in Health. In our first
100 days Labour will review mental health and oversee a significant reinvestment in mental health services including
measures to support our young people such as health teams in every public secondary school.
“National has neglected the funding of mental health system for nine years while the number of New Zealanders seeking
help has risen by over 60 per cent. The choice is now clear. We can have another three years of drift or under Labour
genuine action, and a chance for a better future for all of us,’’ says Jacinda Ardern.