An inspection of Waikato District Health Board's mental health service has been announced following the arrest of a man working as a psychiatrist.
Health Minister Jonathan Coleman said the DHB's mental health services would be formally inspected under Section 99 of the Mental Health Act.
"Following discussions with the Director General of Health, Chai Chuah, and the Director of Mental Health, Dr John Crawshaw, it has been agreed that a formal inspection of Waikato DHB's mental health services will be carried out," Dr Coleman said.
"We want the public to have high confidence in the quality and safety of Waikato DHB's mental health services."
The inspection will be undertaken by the Ministry of Health's director of mental health Dr Crawshaw.
Dr Crawshaw will have a small team who will support him in this inspection that will begin this week.
The inspection and subsequent report back is expected to take up to eight weeks.
A man working as a psychiatrist at Waikato DHB appeared in Hamilton District Court on Saturday on a possible identity fraud charge and previously worked with vulnerable patients who had health issues including mental illness and addiction problems.
Vetting processes to be reviewed
The Medical Council chairman says authorities may have to review vetting processes.
Medical Council chair Andrew Connolly told Radio New Zealand today that most vetting in New Zealand was up to scratch but the Waikato incident showed there may be room for improvement.
"We so far believe that the documents we have examined are all genuine. So there are questions - if this person is not entitled to them how were they obtained? There clearly is a concern here, so we need to see again, are there further things we need to do?"
Dr Connolly said all staff who oversaw the registration of medical professionals were trained in how to identify document fraud.
He said all doctors had to be rigorously checked to ensure they were "as good as their paperwork" suggested.
"I think alarm bells did begin to ring in this particular case," he told Radio New Zealand.
"We do on a very small number of occasions, with all doctors entering practice, identify some competence concerns and that's where we put steps in place to safeguard the public."
Dr Coleman said the Waikato identity fraud allegations were a "serious concern".
Waikato DHB said it was now contacting about 25 patients the man saw during his tenure at the health board.
The health board said patients who'd been with the triage, crisis or home-based treatment teams this year and had concerns should call the Triage Service 0800 50 50 50 or email email@example.com.
The man will next appear in court next Monday,