Mental Health nurses cut from police cells

The New Zealand National Party

In a move that contradicts the Government’s “wellbeing” approach, mental health nurses have been axed from Counties Manukau Police Station, National’s Police spokesperson Brett Hudson says.

“The ‘watch-house nurse pilot initiative’ was launched in 2008. It placed mental health nurses in the Counties Manukau police watch house. Following its success, the pilot became business as usual in 2014.

“An evaluation of the programme in 2010 found there was strong evidence of reduced risk of harm, efficient referrals, and ongoing education to Police on mental health responses.

“Two fulltime nurses had been working in cells. The Police have had problems recruiting for the role after both nurses resigned.

“According to information released under the Official Information Act, the roles were incorporated into a separate Counties Manukau unit. However, the new unit is not based in the Police cells.

“Police say the new unit works closely with them, but it seems unlikely it could be working anywhere near as effectively as it was when it was at the epicentre of police operations.

“Mental health issues can’t be scheduled, and you never know when someone will be brought in who needs immediate help. The absence of those watch house nurses will not only place the sufferer at greater risk, it could also put the Police and wider public in danger.

“This Government claims to be all about wellbeing. But National set up this programme, which was delivering good results.

“Police Minister Stuart Nash needs to explain why a programme that was benefitting the mental health of our most vulnerable people has been scrapped.”

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