PMH issue ‘needs urgent attention’
Opposition MPs are calling for immediate action to fix the ‘‘disgusting’’ and ‘‘appallingly depressing’’ mental health facilities stranded at Christchurch’s Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH).
The derelict facility is used to treat about 31 patients from the youth mental health, mothers and babies, eating disorders and longterm rehabilitation units. The rest of the services shifted out last year.
Plans to upgrade the services have been mired in bureaucracy from more than two years, with tensions between the Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) and Ministry of Health escalating in recent months.
Staff and patients described the facilities as ‘‘disgusting’’ and ‘‘appallingly depressing’’, while the CDHB said the facility was ‘‘substandard’’ and ‘‘not appropriate’’.
Labour Party health spokesman David Clark planned to visit the facility on Monday. He said Health Minister Jonathan Coleman needed to ‘‘front up’’ and solve the problem immediately.
‘‘This situation desperately needs resolving. It is unacceptable that the Government hasn’t come to the party. We need a plan as quickly as possible,’’ he said.
‘‘When you have buildings that have been inadequate for years, it is up to the minister to step in. He is the one that is responsible for the inadequate facilities.’’
A spokesperson for Coleman said he was not available for an interview. He sent a written statement by email: ‘‘The Ministry of Health and Canterbury DHB will work together towards establishing new facilities for regional specialist mental health services at Canterbury DHB as soon as possible.’’
Green Party health spokeswoman Julie-Anne Genter said PMH’s facilities were ‘‘definitely not’’ First World. She said photographs of the facility published by The Press this week were ‘‘really shocking’’.
‘‘I can’t imagine being admitted there would be helpful to people who are struggling. We think it is totally unacceptable and there needs to be more resources put into mental health facilities so that they are services available for people when they need it.’’
She called for a national inquiry into mental health services and said patients at PMH should be moved immediately.
‘‘There needs to be an alternative facility found while the facility is upgraded.
‘‘The CDHB definitely needs more money. You cannot continuously ask people to do more with less.
‘‘It will take a lot of time and resources to actually rebuild the mental health services to where it needs to be.’’
Government-appointed reviewers tasked with assessing the services at PMH before they could move met with CDHB officials in June, but declined to visit the premises because they ‘‘sound awful; we don’t want to go there’’.
The reviewers’ report, which was released on Tuesday, supported all services left at PMH moving to Hillmorton Hospital, but asked the CDHB to first complete another review to justify the extent of its mental health services, delaying the move.