Mental health patients' needs not being met after discharge from hospital, report finds

Patients with mental health needs are not receiving the support they need once discharged from hospital, an Auditor-General's report has found.

The report found mental health services are stretched and some patients are being discharged from hospital because there is someone "more unwell" than them.

Greg Schollum, deputy controller and Auditor-General, looked at mental health services at the country's 20 District Health Boards between December 2015 and March 2016.

The campaigner for better mental health awareness says people need to get help early and realise this is a health issue. Source: Breakfast

In 2015, 160,000 people accessed mental health services, and about 15,000 of them were inpatients.

The report found discharge planning is important to the welfare of patients, and that needed to look at hospital, housing and family support.

"Follow up with people after they had been discharged was not as timely as expected," the report said.

DHBs have a target of ensuring 90 per cent of patients receive follow up care within seven days.

Sunday's Jehan Casinader was only asking this question as a scene-setter. The answer left him gobsmacked. Source: Sunday

But on average, that's only happening in two-thirds of cases.

One DHB was providing "inpatient services for significantly more people than it had beds for," the report said.

"People are sometimes discharged at short notice, and sometimes without the knowledge of community mental health teams or the person's family.

"There are clearly pressures on parts of the mental health system and support services that demand urgent attention and, potentially, innovative solutions.

"In this challenging context, the planning for discharging people dealing with acute mental health problems from hospital needs to be done to a high standard," the report found.

The report recommends urgent improvements.

Those include: Urgently finding ways for inpatient and community mental health teams to work together more effectively to prepare and implement discharge plans and improving guidance for staff.

It says the Health Ministry and DHBs need to quickly make improvements to how they use information to monitor outcomes for people using services.

It notes that since the report was done last year, there has been changes to services but it's too early to tell if those have made a difference.

Where can I get support and help?

Below is a list of some of the services available which offer support, information and help.

Lifeline 24/7 – 0800 543 354
Kidsline (aimed at children up to 18 years of age, available 24/7) – 0800 54 37 54
Depression Helpline 24/7 - 0800 111 757
Healthline - 0800 611 116
Samaritans - 0800 726 666 (for callers from the Lower North Island, Christchurch and West Coast) or 0800 211 211 / (04) 473 9739 (for callers from all other regions)
Youthline - 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email talk@youthline.co.nz
What's Up (for 5-18 year olds; 1 pm to 11 pm) - 0800 942 8787
www.depression.org.nz - includes The Journal online help service
www.thelowdown.co.nz - visit the website, email team@thelowdown.co.nz or free text 5626 (emails and text messages will be responded to between 12 noon and 12 midnight).

1 NEWS Political Reporter Katie Bradford has the latest from Parliament. Source: 1 NEWS



Meridian discards 'prompt payment discounts' for fairer treatment of struggling Kiwis

One of New Zealand's major power companies has replaced its so-called prompt payment discounts, saying they simply penalise people who struggle to pay their bills.

This move from Meridian Energy comes just days after a Government investigation into electricity prices, which questioned the fairness of the practice.

Budgeting advisers deal with the fallout from steep energy prices on a daily basis.

"We see many people who are constantly being disconnected who find power to be a very significant part of their spending," says Tim Bennett, chief executive of National Building Financial Capability Charity Trust.

This week, a government investigation found those who can't afford to pay their bills on time are being charged up to 26 per cent more for their power.

That's because power companies offer so-called "prompt payment discounts," which look like savings but are really just penalties for those who pay late.

Meridian Energy has now officially pulled the plug on the practice. 

"We're getting rid of the prompt payment discount because it's fundamentally unfair, especially to customers who struggle to pay their bills," says chief executive Neal Barclay.

The move has been welcomed by Energy Minister Megan Woods.

"I'm absolutely thrilled by the leadership that Meridian's showing today, that they've listened to what I think are really compelling arguments - that essentially we had a penalty for those who struggle to pay their power bills the most."

"It's great, I think really they were misleading and they were late payment penalty fees most impacting low income Kiwis and I urge other retailers to do it as well," says Green MP Gareth Hughes. 

"One company at least has seen sense and is going to treat people fairly regardless of how much income they've got," added Mr Bennett.

The Meridian logo Source: 1 NEWS

Other major power companies were contacted by 1 NEWS to see if they'd follow suit.

While Genesis, Contact and Mercury have no plans to ditch their prompt payment discounts, Trustpower is considering it.

Smaller retailers like Pulse Energy, who have already ditched the practice, call the payments deceptive and want them gone for good.

Meridian is set to replace the discount scheme with credits of equal value for all customers and says no one will be worse off. 

"The total cost to us is $5 million so that's money back into those customers' pockets," says Mr Barclay.

The government is now considering further actions to bring prices down. 

The move comes just days after government investigation into electricity prices questioned the fairness of the practice. Source: 1 NEWS

TODAY'S
TOP STORIES

Elderly woman in critical condition after being run over by reversing car in Palmerston North

An elderly woman is in a critical condition after being run over by a reversing car in Palmerston North this morning.

Police say she was run over by a car reversing from a driveway on Grey St, Palmerston North at 11am.

She is currently in a critical condition at Palmerston North Hospital.

Police say members of the public and the driver of the car assisted the woman at the scene.

Source: istock.com

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PM pulls out of weekend media appearances due to 'diary issue'

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has pulled out of two weekend media appearances due to a "diary issue". 

Ms Ardern's appearances on TVNZ's Q+A and Newshub Nation were cancelled this weekend. 

"There's been a bit of a diary issue in my team. That's something they've worked through.

When asked if she was not appearing due to a tough few weeks, which saw Clare Curran resign from her Ministerial positions and MP Meka Whitiri stand down while an investigation is pending, Ms Ardern said "absolutely not". 

"There's no question I remain very much available for comment on any issue of the day."

When asked if she was not appearing due to a tough few weeks, Ms Ardern said "absolutely not". Source: 1 NEWS


$3m spent by Government on two education summits

The Government spent $3 million on two education summits, with 1400 people attending the events to discuss making the NZ "education system fit for the future and for the needs of all", said Education Minister Chris Hipkins. 

A paper was released today on the findings of the summits, which included the identification of values in the education system, finding a shared vision and to enable the Minister to be provided with "well-founded and challenging reccommendations" through a broad engagement approach. 

The Tomorrow's Schools Review, the Early Learning Strategic Plan and the NCEA Review were "drawing on those ideas and suggestions to inform their work on the changes". 

"The summits put special emphasis on inviting the voices and communities not usually heard in the education debate, ensuring they could attend. The events were specifically designed for a different style of engagement which enabled an open-ended and genuine exchange of ideas," Mr Hipkins said. 

The two summits were held in May, with about 1400 people in total attending. The Christchurch summit cost $1.41m and Auckland cost $1.26m, with $440,000 spent to design and develop the summits. 

It comes after the Government faced criticism over the cost of its Justice Summit held last month, aimed at overhauling the country's prison system, which cost $1.5 million - more than twice the amount budgeted.

The summit aimed at overhauling what Labour says is a "broken" system blew is budget. Source: 1 NEWS

National's education spokesperson Nikki Kaye told 1 NEWS that "most New Zealanders would be very supportive of ensuring the education sector are involved in policy discussions about the future of our education system".

"However, this needs to be done in a fiscally responsible way and I am concerned that there are anywhere between 13 to 20 reviews at the moment in education and the summits have been expensive.

"I think the Minister needs to demonstrate in the future that he can provide some efficiencies in the way that we are having these conversations, because quite rightly there will be teachers and principals out there saying that should be spent on front line education rather than just on consultation."

Speaking on TVNZ 1’s Q+A, Chris Hipkins said teachers also need to committ to the process.
Source: 1 NEWS