Government’s cruelty on Christchurch’s mental health

Written By: - Date published: 7:02 am, July 5th, 2017 - 15 comments
Categories: accountability, health, national, useless - Tags: , , , ,

The Christchurch earthquakes and their aftermath have been incredibly stressful for many, including the young. This contributes to Christchurch’s worrying level of mental health problems and the huge stress on the city’s underfunded mental health services.

The Nats made big promises to Christchurch:

This devastating event marks the beginning of a long journey for your city.

It will be a journey that leads us from ruins and despair to hope and new opportunities. From great hardship will come great strength.

It will be a difficult journey, but progress is certain, things will get better, Christchurch will rise again.

On behalf of the Government, let me be clear that no one will be left to walk this journey alone.

New Zealand will walk this journey with you. We will be there every step of the way.

Christchurch; this is not your test, this is New Zealand’s test.

I promise we will meet this test.

Fine words.

Empty words.

‘Cruel’ ministry rejects Canterbury’s ‘urgent’ mental health funding plea

The Government has rejected an “urgent” request for millions of dollars of additional mental health funding for Canterbury.

A Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) member has labelled the rejection “brutal, cruel, unfair and wrong” and warns mental health staff are under such pressure that “we’re heading towards a service failure”.

CDHB board member Jo Kane said she was deeply worried about the state of Canterbury’s mental health services.

“They’re doing an outstanding job under extreme pressure, but if we continue this way, we’re heading towards a service failure.

“People aren’t able to access the services and aren’t able to get help. This will result in harm to themselves and harm to the community.”

Chuah calling the urgent plea for help “inappropriate” was “seriously offensive to the people of Canterbury”, she said.

She believed his response was the latest in a long line of “brutal, cruel, unfair and wrong” dealings with the CDHB. …

In other news, Canterbury records most suicides in New Zealand and Suicide toll reaches highest rate since records kept.

Such a proud achievement National, you’re really delivering for Canterbury.

15 comments on “Government’s cruelty on Christchurch’s mental health”

  1. Al 1

    A predictable response from a government so badly out of touch with what is happening for most New Zealanders that they simply do not have the capacity to make good decisions for anyone but themselves and their supporters

    • Draco T Bastard 1.1

      They know what’s happening for most NZers, they just don’t care and will blame the victims of their policies for their fate.

  2. the fundamental job of a government – looking after the people and this government has completely dropped the ball. They don’t care about the people and their suffering. They don’t care about the staff trying to save people day in, day out. They don’t care about the stress and tensions and the breaking point many involved in this area of support are feeling.

    so get the ambulances ready at the bottom of the cliff because they will be needed even more now.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.1

      This government won’t get the ambulances ready at the bottom of the cliff either as that costs money which means that they won’t be able to give tax cuts for the rich to gobble up.

  3. Cinny 3

    When people are taking their lives due to the governments negligence re mental health, it’s time to change the government.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.1

      It’s time to book the government for mass murder once that starts happening.

  4. Zeroque 4

    I’m unsure why the request for more money was turned down and I don’t know what specifically led to the board needing more money however knowing DHBs there would have been good reason for the request. DHBs have become loath to make such requests because they know requests will be met with opposition, at best. I work with mental health workers at DHBs and I can tell you that they are under immense pressure to do what is becoming an impossible job due to the acuity and volume of presentations coupled with the lack of people available to do the work. This is a government whose default position is that there is no more money for public services, even when, as in this case, lives could be saved had it been made available. I find myself agreeing with Marty, they’ve let the public down. Thankfully unions and community groups are campaigning hard to put the spotlight on health funding. Lets hope it makes a difference.

    • Psych nurse 4.1

      CDHB receives less funding per head within its catchment for mental health than any other DHB despite greater need. Hillmorton Hospital as of last week 48 FTE Registered Nurse vacancies up 18 on the month previous, the more Nurses that leave the more will leave as the stress becomes more intolerable.

  5. RedLogix 5

    Fuck this pisses me off. I went through the Edgecumbe quake in the late 80’s. I wasn’t too badly affected but I did have mild PTSD symptoms for about 15 years afterwards.

    Christchurch was several orders of magnitude worse; I would make a wild-arsed guess that 15 – 25% of the population has PTSD to some degree, and maybe 2-5% are badly affected. Most people will just be getting on with life and not saying much. I know I rarely admitted to it.

    But there will be many people really struggling.

  6. Whispering Kate 6

    They have the money alright – it’s just not where the Government wants to spend it – they prefer to put it in sexy things like the America’s Cup – how obscene is that when people are shivering to death sleeping in cars and tents and kids suiciding on a daily basis through having no hope or future to look forward to. They are a judgmental punishing lot this Government and love to put the boot into the vulnerable. Makes them feel good. I resent my tax dollars going into stuff which is extravagant and unseemly – the taxpayer needs to have more power over what the Government does with the tax dollars as the Government are obviously not capable of spending the money wisely.

  7. DRUM 7

    My wife’s based at Hillmorton. Staff there are being asked to work double shifts to make up for the lack of available staffing on the wards. So she’s doing a day’s work in the community then being asked to stay on for another 4-8 hours. The stress is mounting.

  8. Zeroque 8

    There’s a couple of graphs in this recent article which appear to show the vacancies by DHB for acute MH services only. It certainly backs up what’s being said here regarding staff shortages. There’s other stuff too that I keep hearing from people connected to CDHB that must make it a less than perfect place to work so if you add that into the mix with very stretched staff then it’s difficult to see the situation improving rapidly, unfortunately.

  9. Zeroque 9

    And this media release just out from the Public Service Association. Like the jab about the yacht race.

    PSA: It’s worse than ‘inappropriate’ to ignore the mental health crisis in Canterbury
    Source: PSA

    The Government’s rejection of an urgent request from Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) for additional mental health funding to address increasing demand is short-sighted and shows they aren’t listening to those on the frontline, says the Public Service Association.
    CDHB requested urgent additional mental health funding of $7.2 million to address increasing demand in March, but was informed by Ministry of Health Director General Chai Chuah that such a bid would be “inappropriate”, according to media reports published yesterday.
    “I feel like we’re working in a warzone,” says Nancy McShane, a PSA member working in acute inpatient services at CDHB. “Staff safety is at risk and I don’t think the Government realise quite how serious the situation is.”
    “We’re struggling to provide services and seeing people at their absolute breaking point instead of being resourced to intervene early and avert a bigger crisis.”
    “It’s hard to care for the most vulnerable people in society when mental health workers are fast becoming a part of that category themselves.”
    A recent post-Budget analysis of Government health expenditure, prepared by the Council of Trade Unions and the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, estimates that $2.3 billion is required to restore funding to the health sector to 2009/10 levels. Vote Health’s allocation in the 2017 Budget was at least $215 million behind what’s needed to cover current costs.
    “It’s not just foolish to ignore desperate mental health funding pleas from CDHB, but economically unwise too – DHB debt is more onerous than Governmental borrowing, and their bid is about averting a crisis, not simple bottom-line business management,” says Erin Polaczuk, PSA national secretary.
    “Thinking of our tireless, underpaid and understaffed workers at CDHB, I can’t help but wonder why it’s ‘inappropriate’ to seek Governmental help in mitigating a mental health crisis but somehow smart and pragmatic for the same Minister to drop an extra $5 million into a yacht race this week.”
    “This is not an economic issue, it’s about priorities – the Government could easily provide funding and be responsive to the crisis in mental health, but that would mean admitting there’s a problem.”
    “After nine years of continual health sector mismanagement, it’s obvious where that problem arises – and it’s certainly not in DHBs.”
    For more information contact:
    Rhydian Thomas | Media Advisor, PSA
    Email:, Tel: +64 (0)4 816 5087, Mobile: +64 (0)27 552 4610
    Powered by Fuseworks.

    • Psych nurse 9.1

      I take it that the person quoted in this media release is using an alias,I have never heard of her but concur with observations.Nurses are just waiting for a work related death, serious injuries have been common place.Working double shifts is just dangerous, for the Nurse and Patient. You are not exactly alert after 16 hrs work probably have not slept for 20 odd hrs yet are expected to be resonsible for the welfare of someone who may be suicidal or pschotic, when something happens its the Nurse who is down the road not management or the idiot Coleman.

  10. To be fair, Christchurch’s urgent problem on mental health is just emblematic of a general under-prioritisation of public-sector efforts on mental health. It is a literal ambulance-at-the-bottom-of-the-cliff situation right now, except there’s not enough ambulances. We need to simultaneously step up our efforts to address the serious mental health situations we’re already working on, and have more doctors, nurses, and beds available for preventative work that’s currently seen as a private health expense. I wouldn’t be surprised, for instance, if there are a lot of people with severe anxiety disorders who are in that NEETs category both the government and opposition seem so concerned with but don’t have the money or qualify for the assistance to go see someone who can do CBT with them to help them out, because good luck making time for that in public mental health right now.

    This is one of those areas that really makes it clear why there’s a case for the government taking in more revenue than it does at the moment- mental health really needs its budgets raised by exponential levels, and DHBs are already stretched with current “increases” that are usually decreases in real terms.

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