Fewer beds for mentally ill in region

AMANDA PARKINSON
Last updated 05:00 11/03/2014

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The Southern District Health Board will reduce the number of beds for the mentally ill in the region.

Southland Hospital will lose three, reducing the ward's capacity from 19 to 16.

The unit once had 23 beds but four went because of the earthquake risk.

Southern DHB mental health, addictions and intellectual disability directorate nursing director Heather Casey said the decision was part of the Raise Hope strategy plan.

"Raise Hope seeks to enhance care by focusing on building a more integrated community-based service," she said.

Originally, the board had proposed to close 12 beds at Dunedin's Wakari site, but after consulting with doctors, community services and staff, the number was cut to eight .

"Feedback from our wider community did not want to shut too many beds too soon, we need to let the system adjust," Mrs Casey said.

But she did not rule out closing a further four beds.

"We will see what the occupancy looks like, we look at that on a month-on-month basis."

An internal consultation process began late last year and concluded on March 4. As part of the changes, several roles had been reviewed.

Mrs Casey said several staff were affected, but they were all looking at redeployment in the mental health unit. "There were some positions disestablished but there are new positions created," she said.

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