The Government authority charged with overseeing the responsibilities of the Bay of Plenty District Health Board says it has faith the board is taking appropriate action after concerns were raised that Tauranga Hospital was using seclusion rooms as bedrooms.

The Office of the Ombudsman found the use of the seclusion rooms at the hospital's mental health unit Te Whare Maiangiangi amounted to potentially cruel and inhuman treatment of patients. Read more here.

According to an NZME report, it is one of four examples across the country where treatment of patients could be considered cruel and inhuman.

The first was the case of Ashley Peacock, who was held in prolonged isolation at a mental health unit in Porirua.


Ministry of Health senior media advisor Kevin McCarthy said it was aware of the recommendations arising from a 2014 inspection.

District Health Boards were responsible for responding to recommendations from the Ombudsman in Crimes of Torture Act inspection reports and implementing any changes that might be necessary, Mr McCarthy said.

''The Ministry has raised the issue of the Te Whare Maiangiangi Unit's capacity with the DHB, and is satisfied that the DHB is taking action to address this.''

Mr McCarthy said the Director of Mental Health visited district health boards' mental health facilities around the country each year, including in the Bay of Plenty, and discussed a range of issues affecting the services.

In addition, district health board mental health inpatient facilities were subject to regular audits by the Ministry of Health.

Earlier this week, Bay of Plenty DHB clinical director of mental health Dr Sue Mackersey said the facilities in the seclusion rooms had been used to provide people with a bed and bathroom if the unit was otherwise fully occupied at times of high demand over recent years.

The health board had not received any complaints from patients or families about the quality of the facility. The service was looking into how the mental health unit could be reconfigured, she said.