A patient at Whangarei Hospital's mental health unit has been arrested for allegedly assaulting a nurse and stealing a car from the hospital.
Northland District Health Board is looking into how the female patient in the hospital's sub-acute unit managed to steal a set of keys from the staff office and drive a health board staff vehicle away.
The patient also allegedly assaulted a nurse as she made her getaway.
Whangarei police Sergeant Stephanie Hudson said the nurse was allegedly assaulted by a woman at Whangarei Hospital about 8.40pm on Wednesday.
Ms Hudson said the alleged assailant then drove off in the health board vehicle.
She said police caught up with the vehicle on State Highway 12, between Ohaeawai and Kaikohe later in the evening, but the woman allegedly would not stop.
Police used road spikes to stop the vehicle and a 37-year-old woman who was driving was arrested and charged with assault and unlawfully taking a motor vehicle.
She is likely to appear in Whangarei District Court on the charges later this month.
NDHB general manager mental health services and district hospitals Sue Wyeth said the patient was returned to the hospital's mental health unit after being charged, she said.
"The nurse involved is shaken and has a few bruises. She will be returning to work as per her usual shifts," Ms Wyeth said.
"There has never been such an incident at the unit and we now recognise that storing car keys out of sight will alleviate any further risk of this kind."