By: Lucy Bennett

The Government has announced an additional $22 million for the construction of new specialist mental health facilities at Hillmorton Hospital in Christchurch.

The previous National government announced in 2017 the $57m project to move a number of mental services from rundown facilities at the Princess Margaret Hospital to Hillmorton.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Health Minister David Clark today announced a total of $79m had been granted for the project, in which services for mothers and babies, child, adolescent and family inpatient services, and adults with high and complex needs, would be housed in the new facilities.

“This development will create a modern, flexible environment for mothers and their families, children and adolescents. It will include access to the outdoors and green spaces and will be a massive improvement on the current facilities at the ageing Princess Margaret site,” Ardern said in a statement.

The new facilities will contain a family service centre with a 16-bed inpatient and day patient child, adolescent and family service and a 13-bed and 5-7 cots for mothers and babies. as well as eating disorders inpatient and outpatient services.

A separate unit for high and complex needs will include 16 inpatient adult beds for treatment including long-term and intensive rehabilitation.

While the project cost was estimated at $57m, that was increased to $79m when it became clear there was a need for more space for mothers and their families and flexible spaces for children and teenagers.

The Government set aside $750m in Budget 2018 for capital projects, and Clark said today’s announcement was a further sign of the Government’s commitment to tackling problems in the mental health sector.

“The current mental health facilities at Princess Margaret are tired and far from ideal. Relocating these family mental health services to new, purpose-built buildings will make a real difference to patients and the dedicated staff that care for them,” he said.

The Government is due to respond next month to the report of the Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction Services.

Hillmorton Hospital’s mental health unit has had a number of health and safety issues, with a number of attacks on staff, including physical assaults, a nurse having boiling water poured on her, and another stabbed in the leg.

Staff have said overcrowding had contributed to tensions. A new acute inpatient unit with eight beds is opening in March.

Source: NZ Herald


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