The Marshall Liberal Government has announced a temporary mental health assessment unit will open on Monday at the Lyell McEwin Hospital to provide specialised care for mental health patients, while a permanent facility is established.
Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said the five-bed unit would allow patients to receive timely assessment, initial treatment and care in an appropriate environment.
“Today’s announcement fulfils a Marshall Liberal Government election commitment to establish an interim unit at the Lyell McEwin Hospital, ahead of the construction of a brand new $5.5 million facility,” Mr Wade said.
“The decision of the former Labor Government to abruptly close the short stay unit in December 2017, under Health Ministers Peter Malinauskas and Chris Picton, has added to the pressure on our hospitals this year.
“While the former Labor Government was prepared to leave mental health patients without a dedicated unit for years while a new permanent unit was constructed, we don’t want mental health patients to languish.
“In opposition, the Marshall Liberal team committed to deliver an interim solution. We have delivered.
“Emergency Department wait times for mental health patients have skyrocketed since Labor cut more than 60 mental health beds across the State’s hospital system and older people’s mental health system.
“The cuts have contributed to Emergency Department overcrowding and mean that more mental health patients are staying in acute metropolitan hospital beds for longer periods of time.”
Minister Wade said at Lyell McEwin Hospital alone, 51 mental health patients have waited for over 24 hours for a bed since the short stay unit was closed last December.
“It’s those people who will greatly benefit from today’s announcement,” Mr Wade said.
“This facility has undergone a $500,000 refurbishment to ensure it is fit for purpose for the needs of mental health consumers and will be staffed by a dedicated mental health multi-disciplinary team.
“The permanent mental health assessment unit will be included as part of the wider $58m major redevelopment of the Lyell McEwin Hospital’s emergency department.
“While that major project is due for completion in 2021, the development of the permanent mental health assessment unit is a priority.
“In the meantime, the temporary unit will improve the way consumers receive care and also help to alleviate demand on the emergency department.”
Northern Adelaide Local Health Network Mental Health Divisional Director, Dr Sanmuganatham Sujeeve, said there has been a large increase in the number of presentations to the Lyell McEwin emergency department over the past decade, and a significant number have been mental health presentations.
“Mental health consumers have complex needs and require specialised facilities to ensure they receive the best care,” Dr Sujeeve said.
“Being able to assess and treat mental health consumers in the interim facility not only benefits the patient, but also frees up staff in the emergency department.
“The facility includes purpose-designed beds, bathroom facilities, dining and lounge area, private consulting rooms and staff work stations, and will allow our dedicated mental health team to provide specialised care to consumers in a suitable environment.”
Between 2014 and 2017, the Lyell McEwin Hospital operated temporary mental health short stay units in other areas of the hospital, which helped reduce the time mental health consumers spent in the ED.