Families ‘not coping’ in Hutt
If a Hutt Valley teen was seeking a non-urgent mental health appointment, they would have to hang on for at least eight weeks.
That’s the next available appointment available for 12-19 year-olds in the area, where an independent review has found gaping holes in the service.
In May, there was a lag time of six months between initial contact with the Hutt Valley District Health Board’s infant, child, adolescent and family mental health service and a follow-up appointment, the report found.
‘‘There is a general sense of families not coping, no real resources in the community to support children and families and very little early intervention – things are left to get to a high level of distress,’’ one unnamed stakeholder said in the report.
The report, by Auckland health consultancy firm, Chiplin Consulting, was commissioned by the district health board in April after Ministry of Health data revealed wait times were stretching beyond eight weeks for a third of people 19 and under.
As well as poor follow-up rates, key areas of concern included the use of part paper, part electronic records, massive lag times in recruiting core staff, no culturally-specific approaches for youth, and issues with the service being located at Hutt Hospital.
Staff said the building was cramped, leaky, and had a stained, mouldy ceiling.
The report recommended the service be either relocated to community bases in both Lower Hutt and Upper Hutt, or a central base be created to provide services at a range of locations across the Hutt. There was also a need for an overhaul of the leadership structure, better triaging systems and a plan around approaches for Ma¯ori and Pasifika people.
Consultation had begun with staff regarding the recommendations, general manager of the Wellington region’s mental health service, Nigel Fairley, said.
Young people who needed an urgent appointment were currently seen within two days, he said. But the waiting times for some non-urgent services ‘‘are longer than our community should reasonably expect’’.
For a child up to 13-years-old at Hutt Valley DHB, the next available non-urgent appointment was in two weeks, or eight weeks for people aged 12 to 19. The national target is 80 per cent of people being seen within three weeks.