'Shabby' Canterbury mental health services struggling to cope


A Canterbury DHB mental health official has admitted their facilities are "shabby".

Lack of funding remains a concern for The Princess Margaret Hospital's mental health services leading up to the sixth anniversary of the earthquake. 

Canterbury's mental health funding is expected to be cut by $15 per head of population this year, meaning it will fall $46 below the national average of $253.

DHB mental health general manager Toni Gutschlag says it's tough for staff, patients and families, but the alternative of stopping the service is worse.

There are an extra 1000 mental health patients seen every month since the quake.

"It's not just the decoration, it's not the decor, it's actually the way that the service is able to be configured and operate that enables contemporary care," Ms Gutschlag says.

"The dilemma we face is there are more patients requiring care...than there are beds."

Ms Gutschlag says if it wasn't for the tremor, the hospital would've been decommissioned by now. 

The DHB has spent $10.3 million on urgent strengthening works and repairs to damage infrastructure on the hospital site since the quakes.

"It's an aged facility that requires significant investment to bring it up to the new building codes as well to a fit-for-purpose standard."

She says she wants certainty around what the alternative is and the timeframe for moving to a new facility, anticipating it could take another three years. 

Despite this, Ms Gutschlag is confident staff still provide quality mental health care in a post-earthquake environment, where there's been a huge increase in demand for the service.

"We really have to make the best of what we've got even when there are...limitations."