Goal to eliminate seclusion
issue with the health board several years ago when the board’s rate of seclusion was among the highest in the country.
Seclusion involves a patient being left alone in a room they could not exit, and was used when patients posed a risk to themselves or others.
Solomon told the board on Tuesday during a public meeting that seclusion was ‘‘a euphemism for solitary confinement of mental health patients’’.
Solomon had been a frequent visitor to the mental health admission unit at Nelson Hospital, Wahi Oranga, and attended board meetings to monitor the issue.
In December 2015, seclusion use peaked across Nelson Marlborough with 14 patients secluded for more than 1045 hours altogether. A report in 2016 showed seclusion rates in the region were higher than anywhere else.
A report to the board by chief executive Peter Bramley said in the 2016/17 year, there was an average of three patients in seclusion for 80.4 hours each month. But for the current year to date, there had been an average of eight patients secluded for 208.5 hours each month.
Solomon said a report from Ministry of Health stated the national average seclusion by patient should amount to 10 per cent of admissions.
There were 40,000 hours of seclusion use in New Zealand last year and Nelson Marlborough accounted for three per cent of the population, which equated to 1200 hours of seclusion use each year, or 100 hours each month.
Solomon said the current monthly average was at least double that and if that was the case with any other health target, it would raise concerns with management.
Bramley said it had been working with the Health Quality and Safety Commission (HQSC) to reduce seclusion use.