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