20,000 patients admitted to acute mental health care ‘hospital’ facilities in 3 years

By   /   June 7, 2017  /   6 Comments

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These answers will not be found by Coleman and a bunch of time-serving, hui-hopping bureaucrats sitting on their chuffs in Wellington. The community must continue to pile pressure on them and their paymasters until the issues start getting seriously addressed.

The public image of the mental health sector is clearly giving the Government and medical establishment headaches, given the work recently produced by the Auditor-General’s office looking at the problems of the services provided to acute mental health patients – those requiring ‘inpatient’ care, usually at DHB facilities.

In the 3 years from 2011-2014, almost 20,000 people used these services; given the rate or growth, we imagine the figures for the most recent 3 years will be somewhat north of 25,000; the sort of statistic that gives the lie to the claims by Government and health bureaucrats that they are ‘on top’ of the problem.

The fact that one of their own, the official bean-counting agency known for dry accountancy and not for in-depth social analysis, has been given the job of assessing just how bad things are in this high-profile part of the mental health sector, shows just how damaging community claims of a broken system are.

Despite Jonathan ‘Canute’ Coleman and his flunky Director of Mental Health, John ‘The Emperor is Wearing Clothes’ Crawshaw, continuing to repeat the mantra that the mental health system isn’t broken and a few tweaks powered by a couple of million extra bucks will keep it on track, their own cuzzies in the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) have been able to easily spot the signs of collapse.

Not enough beds for acute mental health patients, patients being discharged too early from these units with in many cases little or no ongoing support or accommodation plans are some of the findings of the OAG. Of course, a quick scour of the social media pages reporting on mental health issues could have told them the same story – these issues have been reported on for some years – but when faced with unpleasant facts like this, the first refuge of bureaucrats is to set up a review to enable delays take the heat out the issue.

Only this time, the fire in the kitchen was too strong and too obvious, and the ‘review’ by the OAG had no choice but to admit it was consuming the joint and, perhaps inadvertently, notify all that there was nothing in place to stop it.

Interestingly, they added that families and communities concerned with the welfare of their loved ones and friends and whanau needed to be consulted a lot more.

My family’s Facebook page in memory of our son, ‘Nicky Autumn Stevens’ has received quite a few comments backing up this story over the last 2 years. Only two weeks ago, at a Waikato DHB meeting, management reported that occupancy of the DHB’s only acute mental health facility was running at over 100%, with patients at times sleeping on portable beds in corridors and in normally private meeting rooms.

This particular facility was built 15 years ago, and in that time the local population has increased by 50%, with mental health issues in the community increasing even more quickly – but no change to the facility throughout that time shows a DHB and a Mental Health service asleep at the wheel.

Answers to the problem lie in several areas: a root and branch, full-scale independent Mental Health Inquiry is urgently needed to look at the overall issue of, and solutions to, the mental health crisis; the culture of shooting patients full of drugs without a holistic approach to healing is needed; more acute facilities are needed urgently; more nursing, support and medical staff trained in New Zealand are needed urgently; families, whanau and communities need to be listened to and given status in a new system; more community facilities and services that support people with mental health issues both before and after acute treatment are urgently needed; poverty, which strongly links to poor mental health, needs to be addressed – the list could go on for ages.

These answers will not be found by Coleman and a bunch of time-serving, hui-hopping bureaucrats sitting on their chuffs in Wellington. The community must continue to pile pressure on them and their paymasters until the issues start getting seriously addressed.


Dave Macpherson is TDB’s mental health blogger. He became a Waikato DHB member after his son died from mental health incompetence.

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  1. Geoff Lye says:

    To be quite honest along with this; http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA1706/S00111/minister-how-out-of-touch-are-you.htm
    I do wonder what Johnathon “Blindfold” coleman does all day.

  2. Phil says:

    The Mental Health Service is way under funded with most Forensic Units requiring replacement in the next 10 Years the folly of closing the Bins like Lake Alice , Kingseat, Tokanui etc, is now being revealed , what did people really expect ?
    Mental Health is also a under paid occupation , dealing with unwell people is no easy task ask any parent who has had this experience.

    As much as I despise the Nats , this a problem that has been 30Years in the making , roughly the same time period as Neo-libral Economics !

    • Mike in Auckland says:

      Yes, but most will think, sorry for the language, who cares about “nutters”.

  3. Mike in Auckland says:

    If only the generally “bought” or corrupt MSM and others would bother informing themselves, we would finally get somewhere, as we learn, it is all a huge pot of shit anyway, what we get sold by government:


    “Is the statement that if a person is off work for 70 days the chance of ever getting back to work is 35% justified?”

    ‚In the expectation of recovery’, Faulkner, Centre for Welfare Reform, Scrib




    It is all an agenda to pay nice salaries to some internal and contracted out service providers and advisors, who are presenting a propaganda type “service” that is not even a proper service.

    Re mental health care at DHBs it is highly deficient, I have ample evidence of it. Today in Parliament someone asked Tolley on a question re mental health employment services, and a person from the public gallery shouted LIAR!

    Go and watch the repeat of question time tonight, or download it from Inthehouse or read the Hansard.

    The government is selling propaganda, and little else, the so called investment approach outsourced contracts have delivered stuff all for mental health sufferers, despite of all the propaganda, read some here:
    (read from page 60 on about a half way kind of report)

    I despair at the ignorance and indifference that exists in this country, about what is blatantly obvious, does anybody bother to READ and LEARN, or are we all simply resigning to government propaganda?

    From my observation and experience here in Auckland, KIWIS no longer care all that much, except for themselves, and fuck the rest, what a shocking society this has become, I dread the future.

    Suicide will not be addressed to stop more harm, not under this government.

  4. Mike in Auckland says:

    From Parliament’s Hansard for today, which does apparently NOT record interjections from the Public Gallery:



    10. Dr PARMJEET PARMAR (National) to the Minister for Social Development: What recent announcements has she made regarding funding to help people move off benefits and into work?

    Hon ANNE TOLLEY (Minister for Social Development): As part of Budget 2017 I announced that this Government is investing an extra $64.4 million to help people into sustainable employment. We are investing $19.5 million over 3 years to expand the intensive support for up to 1,500 clients aged 25 to 39 who first received a benefit before the age of 20. The evidence tells us that this group is at a much higher risk of long-term welfare dependency, so we are investing more time and resources, through intensive work-focused case management that is aligned to their individual needs. This is part of the Government’s social investment approach to spending, by ensuring that those who are most in need get the help and support to lead independent and successful lives.

    Dr Parmjeet Parmar: What does Budget 2017 provide for clients with mental health conditions to find and maintain employment?

    Hon ANNE TOLLEY: A great deal. Budget 2017 sees $4.1 million to trial support to 1,000 clients with mental health conditions in Waitematā and Christchurch, to improve their mental health and find and maintain employment. We know that many people with mild to moderate mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety, would like the opportunity to work and be independent. They just might need a little bit of extra help. Employment services will be provided within mental health or primary-care settings, which means that these people do not have to try to navigate multiple systems.”

    Propaganda, propaganda, propaganda, when do the opposition, who did not even bother asking a supplementary question, and the government complicit MSM finally report the damned truth to us???

  5. Helena says:

    I’v tried before without success to post this Article. Here’s another go:
    We have so many, too many, cell towers and over the top surveillance.