Mental health services 'as bad as the 1990s'
New Zealand's mental health system is in the worst shape it's been in since the 1990s, the sector's union has claimed.
And mental health workers fear further cutbacks will result in more bed closures.
Eight have already been temporarily axed at He Puna Waiora on Auckland's North Shore, due to a severe lack of staffing.
Public Service Association DHB spokesman Ashok Shankar says morale among those working in psychiatric care is at an all-time low.
"What they're faced with at the moment is having to provide service that is not to the standard that it should be, and that causes the people who provide the service a lot of distress."
He Puna Waiora is currently 12 nurses short, with Te Whetu Tawera at Auckland Hospital also in dire need of staff.
Waitemata District Health Board on Thursday said it closed the beds "to ensure all inpatients receive an appropriate high level of care and to ensure appropriate workloads for our staff".
"This is about as bad as we've seen it, ever," says Mr Shankar. "The situation is really, really extreme in terms of the pressure the mental system is in. It's as bad as [it was] in the 1990s, if not worse now."
The Government says it has increased funding for mental health and addiction from $1.1 billion in 2008/9 to $1.4 billion now.