Smoking policy in DHB mental health units

Published: Fri 12 May 2017 10:53 AM
Letter to Health Minister Jonathan Coleman re: smoking policy in DHB mental health units
Dear Minister – you will be aware of the recent death of a young Palmerston North woman who was given leave from that Hospital’s Mental Health Unit to ‘go outside for a smoke’, due to the policy of all DHB’s to ban smoking on their precincts, no matter what the circumstances.
Here is the link to a news report about Chelsea Brunton’s death:
In 2015 our son, Nicky Stevens, who was a compulsory inpatient at Waikato DHB’s Henry Bennett Centre, also died under similar circumstances. Despite being at risk of suicide, he was given unsupervised leave to go off the Hospital precinct for a ‘smoke break’.
All DHBs appear to have adopted the same one-size-fits all policy of a complete ban on smoking, no matter what the circumstances.
Most, if not all, DHB mental health units have secure outdoor areas where patients were previously allowed out to smoke cigarettes, and could be allowed to do so again – provided DHB policies are amended to provide for this common sense solution.
It is ironic that our family were, and are, non-smokers, and support moves to cut smoking in the community. But when someone is severely mentally unwell – the reason for them being an inpatient in a mental health unit – smoking cessation is not the most important issue.
There is much evidence that mentally unwell people are much more likely to be smokers than the general population; our son Nicky did not smoke before he started having mental wellness problems when he was a teenager, and we hear many other similar stories from affected families.
We ask you, as Minister of Health, to require every DHB in New Zealand to reconsider their smoking policies, to address the issue of mental health inpatients, and where they are able to smoke.
Quite explicitly, lives are being put at risk by these inflexible DHB policies, and we believe you have a responsibility as Minister of Health to take the action requested reduce the risk for severely mentally unwell people.
Yours sincerely
Jane Stevens and Dave Macpherson

Next in New Zealand politics

Surgical Wait List Hits New Record
By: New Zealand National Party
Intergenerational Climate Strike On September 23rd
By: School Strike 4 Climate
Public Input Sought To Inform Privacy Rules For Biometrics
By: Office of the Privacy Commissioner
Wage Growth Best On Record
By: New Zealand Government
Urgent Government Action Needed To Support Renters’ Human Rights
By: Human Rights Commission
Creating Sustainable Public Transport For All
By: New Zealand Government
View as: DESKTOP | MOBILE © Scoop Media