At Parliament today, Minister of Health Andrew Little announced a review into the mental health system but it has done little to encourage campaigner and advocate Mike King.
Little admits he's frustrated with the slow pace of progress despite the Government pumping $1.9 billion into mental health.
King said the public are sick of reviews into reviews.
“We’ve all had enough of those. If Mr Little really wants to make a difference in this area, he needs to turn his sights on the Ministry of Health who are dragging the chain.
“They are the ones with the money, they are doing nothing,” he said.
King rattled off a list of names within the ministry, saying they should be fired because “if they were in a private sector, they wouldn’t be employed right now,” he said.
King went to Parliament last week and handed back his New Zealand Order of Merit medal and pleaded with the Government for urgent work on mental health.
Despite $1.9 billion being pumped into a struggling system, there has only been five new beds and one new facility.
Little says he’s frustrated and has announced a review.
“Things seem to take a long time for people who are suffering. We're half way through the programme and I think it's appropriate to do a stocktake,” he said today.
“It is frustrating because we inherited a system under crisis, we made a huge investment and two years into that investment programme we are still seeing some serious problems.
“I want to get on top of the problems,” Little said.
Prime Minister Jacinda Arden says the Government’s focus into the five-year investment into mental health has been “really building a primary mental health service, making sure people aren’t tipping into crisis by getting support early”.
She said the Government is having to rebuild acute care and in some examples “starting from scratch has been frustrating”.
King believes the situation is not a money problem.
“This government has given the Ministry of Health plenty of money and it’s the Ministry of Health that is holding everything up.”
He says the health ministry needs an overhaul “because if it ain’t Covid, they can’t fix it”.
King explained that in order for anyone outside of Government organisations to apply for funds, people have to, “jump through so many hoops, it becomes a complete waste of time and once they have put all their restrictions in, it’s impossible to deliver,” King says.
He says mental health care in New Zealand is a post-code lottery. But it’s “not the health worker’s fault”.
“My big fear with this review is that the Ministry of Health will suddenly turn their guns on the people at the frontline, the people who are struggling with this epidemic every single day.”
King says bottle necks in the mental health system are all “at the crisis end of mental health”.
“Because we only fund crisis, the top two per cent of people in crisis are the ones who get the help, everyone else gets turned away at the door, thus a huge bottleneck.”
National leader Judith Collins also weighed into the debate today.
“New Zealanders are sick and tired of the spin. With respect, Prime Minister, New Zealanders do not want to hear how sad you are about the mental health crisis. They want you to do something about it.”