Plans to cut mental health beds

A proposal to reduce the number of mental health beds in ward 11 at Wakari Hospital is still ''under development'', the Southern District Health Board says.

Ward 11 caters for people who require stabilisation beyond their stay in either the inpatient facility or locked unit.

Last year, the board began consultation with staff on a proposal to cut ward 11 beds from 24 to 12.

The cuts were proposed as part of the board's new ''Raise Hope'' mental health strategy for 2012-15 which aimed to create better health outcomes by preventing mental illness and addiction, intervening early when it occurs, and by providing targeted, effective interventions for people who needed them, delivered within their communities where possible.

Board Mental Health, Addictions and Intellectual Disability directorate nursing director Heather Casey said ongoing work was being completed looking at the health needs of people who were likely to need community-based care in the future, as this would determine what community-based services were required. The board was working with providers to ensure correct support was put in place as the number of beds was reduced, she said.

''The consultation process will further this work as consultation will be across the sector, and service gaps and solutions offered.''

Patients would only be discharged when services were available that met their needs.

About half of the beds in Ward 11 were occupied at this time, she said.

- rebecca.fox@odt.co.nz

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