New Zealand Labour Party

Failure in mental health exposed again

The Office of the Auditor General has slammed the care of mental health inpatients after discharge in yet more evidence that our mental health system is in crisis, says Labour Leader Andrew Little.


“The report makes for very disturbing reading. The Office states that ‘Ministry of Health and District Health Boards need to urgently make demonstrable improvements to deliver better results for people with acute mental health problems.’

“What this very plainly shows is that after nine years National has failed patients. We should have a mental health system that provides the right care, at the right time for all who need it.


“It’s not just good enough that patients are sent to caravan parks to recover as this report describes. It’s not good enough that patients are not getting timely follow-up care from our mental health services. Patients are being discharged who are not ready, in some cases without their families knowing, to make space for more unwell Kiwis.


“It’s time for a fresh approach. Labour has a plan which involves primary health teams that can help patients get the coordinated care they need and nurses in every secondary school so we can provide help early on for teenagers with problems.


“I will make it a priority as Prime Minister to fix this. We urgently need a comprehensive review of mental health and addiction services to identify the gaps that this report and other examples have exposed.


“Just today, it was revealed that teenagers with mental health problems in Canterbury are having to wait more than eight weeks to get an appointment.


“The root cause is that funding has not kept up with demand. The result is that we have an over-stretched, exhausted work force that doesn’t have sufficient resources to provide the support patients need.


“National has run out of ideas. A government I lead will provide the fresh thinking needed to give mental health patients and their families the care they deserve,” says Andrew Little.