Up to four beds to close at Wellington Hospital acute mental health unit

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Up to four beds at Wellington Hospital’s Te Whare o Matairangi mental health unit are to close because of a lack of staff, the Public Service Association Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga Mahi says.

Union members have been told the number of beds will be reduced as patients are discharged, because staff vacancies cannot be filled.

PSA National Secretary Erin Polaczuk says staff are at breaking point and the system is in crisis as a result.

“Our members in mental health in the Wellington region says they are under constant stress because of a lack of resources.

“Experienced staff are leaving, and newly-qualified staff don’t yet have the experience to deal with clients who are often volatile with complex needs.

“Community teams are also under extreme pressure, but they will now have to manage acutely unwell clients until beds become available.”

Ms Polaczuk says while the DHB has taken a responsible step in closing the beds if staffing levels are unsafe, this reflects the funding crisis across the health system.

“We know there is a funding gap of $1.85 billion in the health system since National came to power,” Ms Polaczuk says.

“It’s gone unremedied for so long that money alone may not be able to fix all the problems.

“New Zealand needs an independent review of the mental health system, to find out what needs to be done.

“Our members could tell Health Minister Jonathan Coleman where the issues are and what he needs to do – once again, we urge him to listen, and to take immediate action.”