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Work continues on many fronts in Mental Health Services

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Work continues across many areas in Mental Health Services to address findings of an external review after two serious adverse events in Ward 21 at Palmerston North Hospital during April/May 2014.

​The review was commissioned to ensure that any underlying issues in relation to the structure, resourcing, or culture of the service be identified and addressed. The review made wide ranging recommendations for improvements to the services, which were accepted in full by the MDHB board. 

Operations Director Specialist Community and Regional Services Nicholas Glubb, and Clinical Director Mental Health Dr Syed Ahmer said good progress has been made with urgent actions required to be addressed in the first phase of a work programme that is making steady progress.  Additional resources have been used to strengthen clinical leadership in Ward 21 with an interim Charge Nurse and two Clinical Nurse Specialists dedicated to the inpatient setting.  While there are some challenges in recruiting to all vacant potions, additional staffing is being provided on a daily basis to support patient safety 24 hours a day.  This includes dedicated clinical pharmacist time to support improvement in medication management.

The need to strengthen community mental health care for high risk patients in the community is a key focus.  This includes the importance of timeliness of response, face-to-face contact and robust multi-disciplinary care and management.  These matters are being discussed and reinforced with teams across the service over February and March.

A number of further decisions have already been made that are currently in the process of being implemented.  These include strengthening the mental health emergency team so it can function on a 24/7 basis, and the establishment of a service director role to provide overall leadership to the service.  Additional staff have commenced intensive training in Dialectic Behaviour Therapy (DBT), and with other staff are now ready to receive clients waiting to be assessed for this specialist intervention.

Preparations have begun for a longer term service development plan for phase two of the work programme.  This longer term work is to ensure the service develops and functions effectively within an overall systems of mental health care for MDHB district.  As a first step the Mental Health Review Project will develop a comprehensive project plan which sets out the terms of reference and timelines for a process to consult with key stakeholders, including patients and families, specialist services, primary care, non government organisations, iwi/Maori , community/government agencies and the public.  This will also include planning a number of changes to the physical environment of the ward, to improve the environment for patients and staff, and to align with developments in community mental health care.

Contact: Communications Unit (06) 350-8945

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