13 Feb 2017

Prisoners' mental health unit in disrepair

4:38 pm on 13 February 2017

A mental health unit used to house former prison inmates is "not fit for purpose", falling short of the building code and fire regulations, papers have revealed.

Kenepuru Hospital

Kenepuru Hospital Photo: Google Maps

The Purehurehu unit, at Kenepuru Hospital, was opened in 1992 and has had no renovations since.

Capital & Coast District Health Board papers, obtained by a Labour Party Official Information Act request, revealed the unit had deteriorated over time due to a lack of maintenance and vigorous use to the point where it was no longer fit for purpose.

The board papers from September said the building did not comply with fire regulations or the building code, nor did it meet best practice for mental health standards.

"Recent withheld Board papers that show Purehurehu, a secure mental health facility for male persons who are released from prison, is no longer fit for purpose, does not comply with fire regulations, and does not meet best practice for mental health standards,"

A new modular design is being proposed, "Management is to approach MoH to discuss the build and inform them that CCDHB plans on using innovative ways to address costs".

The DHB said the unit was set to undergo a multi-million dollar redevelopment shortly.

Nigel Fairley, the DHB's manager of mental health and addictions, insisted the unit was still usable.

"The building is very safe, there is no question that it is safe, and I don't know where that has come from. Our staff provide a high quality and safe service in a facility that is safe."

Labour Party health spokesperson Annette King said the DHB needed to move quickly on an upgrade.

"In my view they need to set out as soon as possible, what the timetable is for the rebuild, what is the design of it, what is the cost of it, and to assure the public they have got the funding to be able to do it."