New Zealand has same number of acute mental health beds as when Labour came to power

When Labour came to power the country had 608 beds for acute mental health patients.

Five years and billions of dollars of health funding later, New Zealand still has 608 beds for acute mental health patients.

Newshub can also reveal that earlier this year the Health Minister ordered a deep dive into why mental health infrastructure isn't being delivered.

It was the TikTok video that made Health Minister Andrew Little sit up and listen. Kiana filmed a video in a mental health unit in June last year, showing she had to sleep on a mattress on a floor.

On Tuesday, she told Newshub she's "disappointed that nothing's been changed". 

Our mental health facilities are not up to scratch. 

Back in 2019, the Government announced a $1.9 billion programme to fix it up. But Newshub can reveal there are exactly the same number of acute mental health beds now as there were when Labour took office.

"I'm not surprised," said Kiana. 

In 2017, there were 608 beds. It's fluctuated since then, reaching a peak of 619 in 2021, but now we're back where we started at 608 beds.

"It's quite astonishing that the Government has gone and spent $1.9 billion of taxpayers' money on mental health and we don't have a single extra mental health bed available," said National leader Christopher Luxon.

"You've gotta ask the questions, where has the money gone?"

Little said it's "taking way longer than it should do, but there is progress now evident". 

Last year, after Newshub revealed the lack of progress in the programme, the Government ordered a review with damning results.

"They did the review and what's come of it? No one's seeing it on our end," Kiana said.

Now new documents reveal it's still so bad ministers have directed their implementation unit to team up with the Infrastructure Commission and "complete a deep dive" into each of the 16 Mental Health Infrastructure Programme projects and create a delivery plan that "ensures projects gain momentum and get moving".

"The funding was available from 2019, the commitment was available from that time. It still beggars belief for me that it has taken this long to get those things going," Little said. 

It beggars belief for mental health patients too.

Jenna Lynch Analysis

The ministers clearly want to know what's going on.

Little told Newshub there is now progress being made and four of the five projects funded out of 2019's budget are expected to be completed by the end of next year or the start of the following year at the latest.

Now that they've had this second infrastructure-specific review, the information-gathering stage is over.

They should now have the answers of what took so long and it's now their job to make sure nothing takes this long again, especially when addressing something as serious as a mental health crisis.