Two Whanganui mental health units receive vastly different inspection results despite operating on same hospital grounds

Whanganui Hospital.
Whanganui Hospital. Photo credit: Google Maps

Two mental health facilities have received vastly different inspection results despite being run by the same District Health Board and being metres away from each other on the same hospital grounds.

Stanford House, a secure forensic rehabilitation unit, is on the grounds of Whanganui Hospital next door to Te Awhina, an acute mental health unit.

Reports on the two units, which were inspected at the same time in September last year, were published on Thursday by Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier.

He described Stanford House as an example of best practice in the treatment of those held in forensic mental health facilities.

There weren't any instances of seclusion or restraint at the unit from its previous inspection in 2017, and Boshier made no recommendations for improvement.

"This report provides a rare example of comprehensive best practice and demonstrates what can be achieved with existing resources. Publication of this report will give other comparable facilities a description of best practice which may be emulated," Boshier says.

But Boshier made 14 recommendations following the inspection of Te Awhina next door. He highlighted the unit's use of seclusion, saying Māori were disproportionately represented in the data, both in the use of seclusion and the hours in seclusion. In addition, seclusion paperwork didn't tally and he's concerned seclusion isn't being accurately reported.

"To ensure the humane and equitable treatment of Māori and to act consistently with the principles of te Tiriti o Waitangi / the Treaty of Waitangi, it is necessary to recognise and remedy the disproportionality as a matter of urgency," Boshier says.

Te Awhina accepted 11 of the recommendations, including the majority related to seclusion, and partially accepted the other three.