ED mental health crisis needs urgent action: AMA (WA)

ED mental health crisis needs urgent action: AMA (WA)

Friday 25 September 2015


The State Government must immediately act to solve the mental health crisis affecting the Emergency Department at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.


“There is no concrete plan to deal with this ongoing problem at SCGH,” Australian Medical Association (WA) President Dr Michael Gannon said.


“It’s no news to anyone that the mental health system is in crisis, and that from time to time an acute increase in demands on the system creates emergencies.


“Let’s be clear, this issue is not going to wither away. If anything, the demand for emergency healthcare by people who are acutely psychotic is going to increase,” Dr Gannon said.


The Government had a tradition of repeatedly promising to fix the emergency but had failed to provide little more than meaningless promises.


“So we have a mental health system in crisis, fuelled to a significant extent by our illicit drug problem, and we have a Mental Health Minister who is doing little to fix the issue.


“We have an unprecedented demand for acute mental health beds, in part due to alcohol and drug use, and the scourge of methamphetamine use in the community.


“The State Government, including the Premier and the Minister for Health, needs to take immediate action and provide the necessary funding to provide proper ED accommodation for some of our most challenging patients.”


“The government keeps talking about the new beds, but never about the beds they close at the same time. If the Minister was right and there was an adequate number of beds in the system, why have we got acute patients in ED for 48 to 72 hours at a time?


“We are now seeing care for other patients suffer. This situation must not be allowed to continue,” Dr Gannon said.


Dr Gannon also took aim at Mental Health Minister Helen Morton, stating that the minister can’t continue painting a pretty picture of our mental health system when the reality is far different.


“Minister Morton cannot just keep asserting everything’s going to be OK. Tell that to these families whose sons and daughters, husbands, wives, parents, are sitting in ED day after day after day,” he said.


“It is time for the Minister to engage more deeply in the ugly reality of the inadequate services available to the sickest and most desperate people in the mental health sector … let’s start by listening to the doctors and nurses on the front line,” Dr Gannon said.

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