9 Apr 2015

High demand for mental health services

2:19 pm on 9 April 2015

The Waikato mental health unit two patients absconded from this week is facing increased demand, the Waikato District Health Board head says.

Questions are being raised about the security of Waikato Hospital's Henry Rongomau Bennett Centre, after patients Benjamin Manuel and Morgan Hamiora-Smith jumped a fence and fled on Monday night.

The pair, who had a history of violence and were in a secure forensic rehabilitation ward, were turned in by one of their relatives yesterday.

Waikato DHB director of clinical services for mental health and addictions Rees Tapsell said the ward was at full capacity at the time, which was not unusual.

"When all of the units are full, there is more demand on everybody, and that can be more stressful, but I think that we have managed that quite comfortably," he said.

"I don't think that the increase in demand had any effect at all on patients going AWOL or absconding from the forensic services."

There had been an increase in demand for forensic psychiatric services throughout the region and the country, Dr Tapsell said.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs