Home' Greymouth Star : April 1st 2017 Contents Greymouth Star
8 - Saturday, April 1, 2017
alls to crisis teams are
rising, and there was an
almost 600% jump in
one year in the number
of days when there there
were no spare beds available at the adult
In 2014-15 there were only seven
days when there was no space at
Auckland District Health Board
(ADHB) facilities, while in 2015-16
there were 54.
This meant new referrals might have
to be turned away or existing patients
The figures, provided to the Labour
Party under the Official Information
Act, also show the number of call-outs
for adult mental health ser vices has
continued their steady march upwards.
In 2010-11 the ADHB responded to
863 callouts, up from 1719 in 2014-15
and 2018 in 2015-16.
In his most recent annual report, the
director of mental health, Dr John
Cranshaw, said 162,222 people, or 3.5%
of the population, were seen by mental
health or addiction ser vices.
Sur veys undertaken by DHBs showed
an 82% satisfaction rate with mental
health ser vices.
Funding for mental health had risen
from $1.1 billion in 2008-09 to $1.4
billion in 2015-16, Dr Cranshaw said.
But Labour’s mental health
spokesman David Clark said that
funding increase had been far too low
to deal with the increasing demand.
Labour’s line is that the Government
has underfunded health by $1.7b
and Mr Clark believes mental health
ser vices have been the first to suffer.
“The system is creaking at the seams
and every DHB is making cuts to try
and live within the budgets they ’ve
been set and unfortunately mental
health ser vices are often the first to feel
The situation was most acute in
Auckland, and he had heard stories of
patients being turned away and higher
levels of sick leave being taken by
He again called for an inquiry into the
mental health system and said it would
be one of the first moves he would
make if he became health minister
following the election.
“The trend has been there for a
while but the real personal horror of
it strikes me again and again. These
are real people who are suffering in
our community and it can happen to
In response, current Health Minister
Jonathan Coleman said it was
“complete nonsense” to claim $1.7b had
been cut from the health budget.
The Government ’s investment
in health was a record $16.1b this
financial year, which included an
increase in mental health funding.
He said there had been a clear
increase for mental health ser vices
both in New Zealand and across the
world, with 20% more people seeking
treatment than five years ago.
Dr Coleman said people’s needs
varied and to respond to that there was
a focus on increasing access to ser vices,
although there was always more that
could be done.
“Mental health spending by DHBs
is ring-fenced, this means a DHB can
never spend less than the previous year
on mental health ser vices.”
Andy Colwell said working in the
mental health system in Auckland was
a balancing act.
As the Public Ser vice Association’s
mental health committee convenor, Mr
Colwell believes the system is nearing
Occupancy was on the rise and staff
were working in full-capacity units
where the ser vice model was based on
This made it impossible to do the
job properly and led to burnout and a
higher turnover rate, he said.
With increasing patient numbers
there were often difficult choices about
which patients would have to leave the
unit, which meant a flow-on of extra
work for community health staff.
The problem was a lack of funding
as more people accessed mental health
ser vices and Auckland struggled with
an increasing population and rising
house prices, Mr Colwell said.
“That all adds up to an increase on
mental health ser vices and we just can’t
“It is certainly a funding issue, to put
it succinctly the demand or supply of
ser vices is not matching the demand
and we are underfunded and under
This is disputed by ADHB’s mental
health and addiction ser vices director
Anna Schofield, who said funding had
increased from $125m in 2011-12 to
$144m in 2015-16.
Changes to the way community acute
ser vices were organised had also led to a
“sizeable” increase in referrals in 2015.
There was undoubtedly increased
demand as Auckland grew and more
people sought help, but ADHB had
improved to better ser ve the population,
Ms Schofield said.
“ While it is not unusual for some
units to reach capacity it would be
misleading to represent this as unmet
“Patients not cared for in the inpatient
setting may for example be cared for
with individualised care packages
that enable care at home or with their
health ser vices
Auckland’s mental health services are groaning under increasing demand.
Is the city at “crisis” point and is it time for an inquiry, asks Newsroom’s
of the New Zealand Herald
“ How did this actually
happen? How did I
allow anyone to take
my child? How was I so
gave birth to her baby
daughter at St Mary’s
Home for Unwed
Mothers in Otahuhu,
She was 19 and
unmarried. The matron
separated Maggie from
her child. She was told
the child would be
adopted out, and was
taken to a nearby lawyer’s office.
“Actually I was in a daze. I don’t
know whether you’ve ever had a hum
in your head that ’s so loud that you
can’t think. That this wasn’t actually
happening, it must be a nightmare.
“ I remember being required to put
my hand on the Bible, which actually
wasn’t part of the adoption act — but
was an amazing emotional blackmail,
to put your hand on the Bible and
swear you would never try to find your
It was a common occurrence in New
Zealand at that time — a generation
of ‘baby scooping’ and forced adoption.
The young women worked in the
laundry and gardens to earn their keep.
“ I was taken home. But my crying
really did upset my mother. I used
to ring the home and plead with the
matron to have my child back. I was
damaged, hurt, my mental condition
was not good. I didn’t get over it. It
was a grief that I started my day with
and ended my day with, my child was
never off my mind.”
For 18 years, Mrs Wilkinson suffered.
It was only through Jigsaw — an
organisation that helped birth parents
and children reconnect — that Maggie
finally met her daughter, Vivienne.
Mother and daughter had been
searching for each other for almost two
“I sort of sat on the letterbox waiting.
I couldn’t believe it. Couldn’t believe
that I could at last hold her. It was like
having your baby put in your arms for
the first time.”
Mrs Wilkinson has never forgotten
that day — but says so many women
never got to meet their lost children.
So she created a petition and posted
it to Facebook, receiving support from
Labour Party deputy leader Jacinda
“A hundred and something signed
it over just one weekend. Jacinda said
it actually only needed my name on it
anyway and that she’d be my sponsor.”
Mrs Wilkinson flew to Wellington
with other women whose children
were taken from them, to appear
before a select committee.
They shared their stories in a quest
for justice. But Mrs Wilkinson is not
“I want to believe in democracy, but
if Amy Adams can say there won’t be
an inquiry without even reading the
findings, and take no notice of the
proceedings — we sort of wonder what
farce we have just gone through.”
“I did get some mediation and a little
bit of counselling after 52 years,” she
Mrs Wilkinson says we must never
forget past wrongs, because we will
only open ourselves up to repeating
Mum speaks out
on forced adoption
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