The State Opposition has raised concerns about voluntary mental health patients in Rockingham being bussed to day centres as the Rockingham Hospital’s mental health unit grapples with a critical shortage of beds.
Speaking in Parliament last night, shadow mental health minister Ljiljanna Ravlich said she had also been told voluntary patients were being taken to mainstream hospital wards at night because there was nowhere to accommodate them at Rockingham Hospital’s mental health unit.
“I’ve been advised that nurses at the hospital have been told if an acute psychiatric patient presents at the hospital, then the nurse is to direct to the emergency department so they can get a bed at the Mimidi Park Mental Health Unit, otherwise they’re not going to get one,” she told Parliament.
When asked about the situation during Upper House question time yesterday, Mental Health Minister Helen Morton said she was not aware of any patients being “kicked out”.
“I think that the member is making wild assertions assuming that people have been kicked (out of) anywhere by anyone especially the very good folk that provide the services down at Rockingham Hospital,” she told Parliament.
“There are a variety of programs that operate whereby people who are undertaking some rehabilitation program do actually attend community-based facilities during day as part of their reintegration and restorative work and reintegration into the community
“If you’re in someway insinuating that’s people being kicked out of mental health facility while they go to a community based service, then you’ve got no understanding of rehabilitation or reintegration of people from a facility back into the community.”
Ms Ravlich said she had also been informed that nurses had also been advised to assess where psychiatric patients were low risk with those patients then placed in either the surgical, aged rehabilitation or medical wards because there were insufficient mental health beds.
“This is clearly unacceptable – these wards are not designed for mental health patients and they are certainly not staffed by mental health nurses,” she said.
“The Minister for Mental Health didn’t seem to know anything about it- it seemed to have caught her by surprise, that’s probably a reflection of the fact that the clinical side of mental health really doesn’t have anything to do with her and it is a weakness in the structure the Government has put together.”