Mum’s psych service fears

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The mother of a long-term patient at Queenstown’s mental health service says a slew of staff resignations in recent months could lead to another hospitalisation for her child.

The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, says the lack of psychologists in the resort is very likely to “cause a demise” for patients.

Her child, who has a chronic mental illness, has been with the service about three-and-a-half years.

The family was told they would have have a psychologist until the end of February “and then we don’t know what will happen”.

“We’re basically being left high and dry.”

Senior clinical psychologist Dr Gen Numaguchi blew the whistle on the state of the resort’s mental health service last month, saying he quit last year because of excessive workload and poor working conditions.

Numaguchi told Mountain Scene last month he, two other psychologists and two social workers resigned after Southern District Health Board managers bungled a plan for after-hours cover in the resort.

The complainant describes the service as being in a “pretty catastrophic” state, something that will end up costing the DHB more if patients aren’t adequately cared for.

She believes if the same issues were happening with the oncology service, there would be a “huge outcry”.

“I’m gutted, they’ve had some very talented staff there … they’ll end up with no service, or attract really mediocre staff.”

She’s “frustrated and exhausted” with the incompetence of DHB managers.

“Any decent management wouldn’t let that many good staff go.

“They already had really skilled workers there, but they’re working far too many hours overtime, and instead of hiring new staff, they just make existing staff cover more hours.

“Sometimes they [psychologists] have to cancel appointments because they’ve been on call the night before, and then you have to wait another whole week to see someone.”

DHB manager Louise Travers says it’s “assertively working to recruit” for Queenstown.

  •  Abbey Palmer

ed@scene.co.nz