The mother of a Wellington mental health patient says some patients were released from a secure unit over Christmas due to staff shortages, not because they were well enough to be free.
Lyn Copland's son suffers from bipolar disorder and psychosis, and was admitted to the Hutt Hospital's Acute Mental Health Unit under a compulsory treatment order a month ago.
She says he was sent home on Christmas day, despite continuing to be very unwell.
Ms Copland says the other patients in the secure ward were also either released or sent to the open ward over Christmas.
She also says that the under-staffing also means that some patients are able to access recreational drugs.
She says her son is supposed to be under constant supervision, but he was given cannabis, or synthetic cannabis, while unsupervised during a visit to the open ward.
Ms Copland says she understands use of synthetic cannabis has been widespread in the open mental health ward.
Hutt Valley District Health Board could not be reached for comment.