Hospital review calls for more beds

A review into Christchurch's Hillmorton Hospital has been completed after the unexpected deaths of three inpatients this year.

Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) commissioned the external review of the Acute Adult Inpatient Service (AIS) at the psychiatric hospital. The review was prompted by the deaths.

CDHB's chief psychiatrist Associate Professor Phil Brinded said the focus of the independent review was on admission, assessment, treatment, discharge planning processes and relationships with adult community services.

He said the hospital was "very concerned" with the tragic deaths and wanted to take a closer look at the circumstances surrounding them and whether anything could have been done to prevent them.

Assoc Prof Brinded said the review had two over arching recommendations.

The first was that there needed to be a greater integration of the mental health sector and that the provision of mental health services be planned by representatives from throughout the sector.

The second advised a possible reconfiguration of beds in the specialist mental health service.

Assoc Prof Brinded said across Canterbury, it had recommended an increase in the number of beds in the AIS and a decrease in the number of inpatient rehabilitation beds.

The review had been discussed with staff and the families of the three patients who had died, he said.

The points were a way forward for acute psychiatric services in Canterbury, Assoc Prof Brinded said.

"We will encourage the planning, implementation and evaluation of the recommendations in this report as soon as practicable," he said.

CDHB general manager Vince Barry said many of the issues raised in the review were not exclusive to Canterbury.

"But we will certainly be looking at the number and type of beds that are available to do our very best to improve patient welfare and staff effectiveness," he said.

Professor Graham Mellsop led the review team.

Assoc Prof Brinded said each of the patient's deaths had also prompted an internal review, which involved a thorough investigation and analysis of each incident.

The CDHB was in the process of addressing the recommendations in those reviews.

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