Frances Cook is a Wellington based multimedia reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Workers say mental health system 'broken'

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman is accused of not listening to the concerns of Wellington mental health workers. Photo / Claire Trevett
Health Minister Jonathan Coleman is accused of not listening to the concerns of Wellington mental health workers. Photo / Claire Trevett

Wellington mental health workers are pleading for help to fix what they describe as a "broken system" that's "in crisis".

Workers from the Capital and Coast DHB have taken the unusual step of writing an open letter, appealing to the public to create pressure for the necessary changes.

The letter said workers didn't want to make excuses, but that they're struggling to do their jobs.

"Here's one example. At one of our work sites, the alarm system has a 15-second delay.

"And that can be the difference between life and death - for clients and for staff.

"We have been asking for a new system for two years. We're still waiting."

The letter finishes by accusing Health Minister Jonathan Coleman of not listening to their concerns, and asking for improved funding.

It comes in response to a highly critical report into Wellington's public mental health services.

Five patients were involved in attacks over 15 months.

The Mellsop review found major problems in each case. It recommended a raft of changes to the system including better record keeping and faster assessments.

PSA national secretary Glenn Barclay said the mental health workers knew it was a big step to speak out publicly, but they felt they had no other choice.

"Under National more than $1.7 billion has vanished from the health budget.

"Lack of money means DHBs are struggling to replace ageing buildings and outdated alarm systems which have potentially life threatening flaws, not to mention hiring staff and improving safety.

"[Workers are] seeing a steady erosion of their ability to support and stand up for their clients."

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf05 at 24 May 2017 17:47:57 Processing Time: 276ms