Mental health care provider Pact has taken issue with
what it deems a ''negative'' portrayal of community-based care
in the concerns raised over cutting bed numbers at Wakari
Subacute mental health bed numbers at the hospital would be
halved under a Southern District Health Board proposal.
The Otago Daily Times reported that Dunedin North MP David
Clark and the Public Service Association had warned clients
would have less access to highly-skilled staff such as
Both suggested the board was cutting costs, and would not
funnel the $250,000 annual savings to community-based
Pact chief executive Louise Carr said she was disappointed
with what she believed was a negative portrayal of the
All staff were professionally trained for their roles at a
range of skill levels.
''For anyone to say community staff aren't qualified is not
only incorrect, it's insulting to the people we employ.''
At present, hospital stays were longer than they needed to be
because of a lack of community beds.
She was confident the board would accept the necessity of
beefing up community services.
''The fact is that people are often ready to move into the
community, but stay in hospital for longer than they need to
because there are no beds in the community. We welcome a more
''There's nothing magic about having someone in hospital.
They can just as easily access psychiatrists or psychologists
while living in the community in their own environment.
''That's particularly important for people living in the
regions who would otherwise have to travel to Dunedin.''
However, Dunedin mental health advocate and Royal Australian
and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists community member
Graham Roper said the cost-cutting criticism levelled by Dr
Clark and the union was ''spot on''.
Mental health suffered since the mandatory ring-fencing
around funds was relaxed by the Ministry of Health a couple
of years ago, he said.
Mr Roper said he would support the move if savings were
funnelled into the community to improve services and support.
The board has said it will listen to feedback before deciding
what additional support is needed in the community.