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Hutt DHB Supports Inquiry Into Mental Health Concerns

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Hutt DHB Supports Inquiry Into Mental Health Concerns

Wellington, Jan 19 NZPA - An inquiry into Hutt Valley District Health Board's mental health services will show "historical issues" are being addressed, chief executive Graham Dyer says.

Coroners have raised a number of concerns about the service following the deaths of three Hutt Hospital mental health patients, including depressed Jerome Perez who killed himself after waiting for respite care.

But in June Health Ministry mental health director David Chaplow ordered an investigation into the service after being told of the problems, and that has been quietly being carried out.

"There are two main areas of concern -- the leadership of the mental health services, and a number of clinical issues presenting as `complaints' involving individual patients, which may, in turn, be related to the leadership issue or to wider systemic issues," Dr Chaplow wrote in a letter to then-Hutt Valley District Health Board chief executive Michael Hundleby.

The inquiry, which looks at two years from June 2008, is being carried out independently by Barry Wilson, a mental health district inspector and lawyer from Auckland.

Mr Dyer today welcomed the inquiry, saying it was an opportunity for an expert view of the DHB's processes and he was fully committed to implementing any recommendations.

"We are confident recent service changes have addressed any historical issues."

Acting chief operating officer Toni Atkinson said the DHB undertook a significant restructure that was completed in September 2009, resulting in some new appointments which had recently been filled.

The inquiry is expected to be completed in February.

Deputy mental health director Susanna Every-Palmer told Radio New Zealand some findings may be publicly available, while also ensuring any confidential patient information was not disclosed.

She said that some "significant" changes had been made and the ministry was supportive of those changes.

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