24 Jan 2017

Govt admits Christchurch mental health clinic not ideal

9:20 pm on 24 January 2017

A Christchurch family has removed their brother and son from a mental health clinic out of disgust at the conditions.

The Seager Clinic is an inpatient facility at the city's Princess Margaret Hospital.

The concerns with the clinic became public after an email from Associate Health Minister and Christchurch Central MP Nicky Wagner, which said the whole of Canterbury's medical system was under stress while the city was rebuilt after the earthquakes.

That email was sent to Marcelle Lunam, whose 51-year-old brother was in the Seager Clinic.

Speaking today, Ms Lunam said conditions at the clinic were terrible.

"My brother is an acute paranoid schizophrenic and he was in this one room," she said.

"It is completely desolate, this is a shocking place to put a very vulnerable person who is suffering acute psychosis and imagining terrifying thoughts, that people are out to kill him or that he is evil.

"He was in this room that has no windows, no air conditioning, crumbling ceilings and cracks in the walls. It would give anyone nightmares let alone someone having a psychotic episode."

She said conditions in the kitchen were unhygienic and the whole building was dark and filthy with cracks, and appeared to be in an advanced state of disrepair.

Ms Wagner told Ms Lunam in the email that her brother's situation was not ideal and it would be better to have him elsewhere.

But there was nowhere else available, and the man's mother made the decision to pull him out of the clinic.

Ms Wagner then told Ms Lunam there was an issue that had to be faced as to how much work should be done on the clinic when it was due to be decommissioned anyway.

She added the whole of Canterbury's medical system was under stress and she apologised.

Ms Lunam said that was not good enough.

The minister declined to be interviewed by RNZ.