Coroner’s inquiry into Wellington mental health deaths vital - PSA

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The Coroner’s decision to investigate four mental health related deaths in one case will yield valuable information about services in the Wellington region, the PSA says.

Coroner Michael Robb has decided to conduct a combined inquiry into the four deaths, shortly after Capital and Coast District Health Board announced a review of its mental health facilities.

Three of the four deaths in the inquiry are understood to involve people who had had contact with CCDHB’s mental health services.

“We are pleased the Coroner has elected to investigate this as a combined inquiry,” PSA National Secretary says.

“The Public Service Association is the union for mental health workers, and our members have been telling us repeatedly about the huge strain the system is currently under.

“We’ve heard stories about mental health wards where all nurses on duty are working double shifts, counsellors with case-loads that are double the usual and crisis teams on the brink of collapse.

“We represent care workers who visit mental health patients at home, going into potentially volatile situations by themselves and receiving just the minimum wage.

“We believe all this is happening because the government has effectively removed the ring-fencing of mental health, despite a projected doubling of demand by 2020.

“Our members are doing the best job they can in tremendously difficult situations, but urgent action is needed.

“We hope the Coroner’s inquiry can identify the systemic issues that have caused these tragedies to occur, and make recommendations on how they can be addressed.”