Clinic to get new unit

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By JESS LEE

A BULGING prison pop­u­la­tion has prompted con­struc­tion of a new medi­um­se­cure men­tal health unit.

The 15-bed fa­cil­ity will be built at Pt Che­va­lier’s Re­gional Foren­sic Psy­chi­a­try Ser­vice site, known as the Ma­son Clinic, which treats peo­ple with men­tal ill­ness or in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­ity who have com­mit­ted a crim­i­nal of­fence or are at high risk in the com­mu­nity.

The new build­ing will ini­tially be used to house pa­tients from the site’s ex­ist­ing units which are in need of re­pair due to leaky build­ing syn­drome.

Ex­pand­ing the fa­cil­ity is nec­es­sary to cope with Auck­land’s boom­ing prison pop­u­la­tion, clin­i­cal di­rec­tor Dr Jeremy Skip­worth says.

A new 960-bed men’s prison in Wiri, South Auck­land is due to open next year.

It will see the re­gion’s prison pop­u­la­tion rise from about 2500 to 3500, Skip­worth says.

About 10 per cent of th­ese peo­ple will have a se­ri­ous men­tal ill­ness and a num­ber of them will need hos­pi­tal­level care.

‘‘For those peo­ple their only op­tion is to come here and we are un­der enor­mous pres­sure to get those peo­ple in. We’re desperately in need of more beds,’’ Skip­worth says.

‘‘At the mo­ment we op­er­ate five beds in Wellington which is a re­flec­tion of how much pres­sure we’re un­der on this site to meet the needs of ev­ery­one that we need to.’’

More than half of the fa­cil­ity’s pa­tients are Maori, Skip­worth says. The new unit will cater specif­i­cally for the needs of Maori pa­tients after the re­me­dial works are com­plete.

It fol­lows on from the suc­cess of the fa­cil­ity’s kau­papa Maori re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion unit which com­bines Maori val­ues and con­cepts with Western clin­i­cal prac­tice, Skip­worth says.

Men­tal health ser­vices have been pro­vided on the site for about 150 years.

Its ex­ist­ing build­ings, be­tween eight and 22 years old, have struc­tural is­sues, mould and sod­den tim­bers in the walls.

The air qual­ity is tested reg­u­larly and hasn’t reached lev­els which force the units to close, Skip­worth says.

Photo: JESS LEE

New unit: Pt Che­va­lier’s Re­gional Foren­sic Psy­chi­a­try Ser­vice site, known as the Ma­son Clinic, is get­ting a new 15-bed medium-se­cure unit.

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