The Chief Ombudsman has identified another mental health unit in Auckland where people are overstaying because of a lack of suitable housing.
A new report found 13 people had stayed longer than necessary at Auckland City Hospital's Te Whetu Tāwera Acute Mental Health Unit, one for up to 17 months.
It follows an earlier report, released in August, that found five people overstayed at Waitākere Hospital's Waiatarau Mental Health Inpatient Unit for over six months for the same reason.
Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier said acute mental health inpatient units were not suitable accommodation for those who were not experiencing overwhelming mental distress.
He acknowledged staff at both units were actively seeking accommodation for long-term patients with high and complex needs, and often an intellectual disability.
"I admire Te Whetu Tāwera's position on not discharging service users into homelessness. I appreciate that staff at both hospitals find it frustrating and distressing to see the impact the lack of community housing in the region has on their patients.
"I have been in contact with both the Auckland and Waitematā district health boards, and the Ministry of Health, to outline my concerns. I was informed that an initiative is under way in the Auckland region to address this, and I will be monitoring progress."
The Ombudsman's inspectors made an unannounced visit to the unit to ensure the conditions and treatment of patients detained there comply with New Zealand's international human rights obligations.
Boshier said there was no evidence any patient had been subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Staff at the Auckland City unit were doing good work, including concerted efforts to reduce placing patients in seclusion, and a comprehensive programme of activities for patients to help their recovery.
However, he said areas of concern included patients feeling unsafe because they could not lock their doors, the unit's drug searching and strip searching practices and patients in seclusion being visible while using the toilet.
"These matters aren't acceptable in a mental health facility," Boshier said.
"I have made recommendations for resolving them to the Auckland District Health Board. I'm pleased to see that some of my recommendations - for example a review of the drug and strip searching policy - have been accepted.
"The DHB has also agreed to investigate why some patients feel unsafe, and make bedroom doors lockable."
The Chief Ombudsman made 15 recommendations: three were accepted, eight partially accepted, and four were rejected.