Ward 21 Palmerston North Hospital and the recently released article on Stuff (Manawatu Standard) on the sad loss of another young life in that same ward.
Now I (and many at the blog) have had plenty to say about Ward 21, but a past comment on Wellington Services and the latest comment from Tauranga suggest Mental Health services in this country are in a dire state.
Before I move on with this subject here is something I used to ask our clients in the health sector when presenting for Like Minds Like Mine. Is Mental Health an Industry or a Service? Industry is an automaton by and large and uncaring in it's approach. A service actually identifies, formulates, and proceeds with an action plan to garner better results. I'd like to think Mental health is a service, but too many robots from the days of The Bins still permeate as staff and the level of care (or lack thereof) is plainly evident.
And don't get me wrong, yes I do know and understand that working in Mental Health is a challenging and demanding occupation, but money needs to be thrown at the industry to better align it to a caring recuperative service. And that is plainly evident if deaths are occurring at an alarming rate (one is too many).
So what to do? Recently, (apparently) a review was undertaken at Ward 21. I don't have the results of that review or the reason the review was formulated, but I feel now there should be a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Mental Health Services in this country (nothing less if patients are dying in the service). It's fair to say many wards or units are in disarray, under funded, poorly staffed and generally have such a bad reputation that clients that need to seek their services are too scared to present for referral. The anecdotal evidence in the community fosters that assertion. And this surely has a detrimental cost on not only that individual but also family and the community at large in the event things do go wrong.
The Inquiry should be directed at three key areas:
1. Are Ward staff suitably qualified and do they meet the Standard for Caring (yet to be written I suspect) for their clients?
2. Are clinical psychologists and psychiatrists qualified to look after patients and do they also meet a Standard of Care for their clients (both on the ward and in the community)
3. Do the mental health wards physically meet the requirements of the clients?
It's time we stood up and demanded better services for those who are unfortunate enough to require such service. A cancer patient is treated like royalty. Heart patients get the King treatment. People on general wards are very well treated by and large. Mental Health is sadly the distant (and oft forgotten) bastard baby.
One area that has been raised is the way Mid Central Health "manage" their Ward services. For some time a Psychiatrist has been the Ward Manager. Now psychiatrists are very much psychiatrists first and not necessarily good managers, so there could be justification in saying wards are mismanaged and in disarray due to lack of skills and knowledge to do such a job. So why not institute a Ward Manager (someone trained to manage and get results) with Ward Psychiatrists and staff working alongside in recuperative care? A start, works in business.
Anyway, your thoughts please (post them as a reply here). We need to prevent deaths and turn around lives.
Below is a running commentary by links found in the comments section below to allow easier access for those wishing to read them.
1. Review slams DHB's mental health service (from Manawatu Standard)
2. Rise in district's suicides horrific (from Manawatu Standard)
3. Ambulance staff boost to accelerate response (from Manawatu Standard - fixing the bottom of the cliff whilst holding back on a fence at the top.)
4. External Review of Mental Health Services at Mid Central DHB
5. Mid Central DHB Tactical Response
6. Report on service losing beds (From Manawatu Standard)
7. Radio New Zealand Radio article on Mental Health services and funding.
8. Mid Central DHB hold public Meeting to apologise, families of victims not invited. (From Manawatu Standard.
9. Parents lose Faith in DHB (from Manawatu Standard)
10. An obituary piece to Erica Hume from Sunlive.co.nz
11. News regarding Hulme actions to change Ward 21 and all MH wards/services.
12. Suicide Strategies Needed by DHB's and MoH Dated 2 August 2016.
13. Another suicide in MH care - Wellington Dated 3 August 2016
14. From the Herald - Multiple Murders Waikato DHB Dated 11 October 2016