Labour: Mental health cuts put pressure on emergency depts
Government cost-cutting in mental health services is forcing those in need to emergency departments, the Labour Party says.
Labour's associate health spokesman David Clark said information he had received showed the number of people going to emergency departments for mental health issues had tripled in the past four years.
"Alongside that, call-outs for adult mental health services have risen significantly and the number of mental health clients admitted to DHB mental health in-patient units is also increasing," he said.
"At the same time there are fewer dedicated beds available for patients. Too often care is being devolved to the community without support and funding following."
He said the government had its priorities wrong in health funding and it was no time for cost-cutting.
But Health Minister Jonathan Coleman dismissed those accusations.
"Funding for mental health and addiction services has steadily increased every year under this government, increasing from $1.1 billion in 2008/09 to over $1.4 billion in 2014/15," he said.
Last week - Mental Health Awareness Week - the Ministry highlighted a number of initiatives focused on mental health issues, including more support for rural communities and youth mental health.
The government was also working to improve mental health services through a development plan that brought together various agencies, DHBs and NGOs, Dr Coleman said.