Latest Mental Health report also shows a system in crisis: Greens
29 November 2012
The Council of Official Visitors latest report is further evidence of a mental health sector in crisis say the Greens.
Greens Mental Health spokesperson Alison Xamon pointed to commentary in the report, tabled late yesterday in Parliament which described a “a sense of heightened acuity and stress on hospital wards.”
“Following closely on the heels of the damning Stokes report which detailed a mental health system in deep crisis, follows the statutorily required Annual Report of the Council of Official Visitors which has reported a significant increase in the number of people seeking assistance for mental health issues. The report details a litany of concerns with the way both voluntary and involuntary inpatients are being treated,” Ms Xamon said.
Amongst the concerns are a failure of some mental health staff to follow policies designed to protect human rights, as well as specific provisions within the Mental Health Act which are designed to ensure that people are not involuntarily detained unnecessarily.
“The report also outlines that the workload of the Council of Official Visitors has increased significantly, with an increase in workload of 50% over the last 2 years alone.”
“Part of this can be explained by increases in population, but in any event it is absolutely clear that the number of necessary inpatient beds has in no way kept up with demand.
“This is resulting in voluntary wards being locked, patients being transferred to general wards overnight, overcrowded wards during the day, and people being shifted out of wards before they are ready.
“All of this runs counter to ensuring that our mental health wards are conducive to recovery and for that we should be very concerned.
“How many more damning reports do we need to see until the Government realises that it needs to do more than tinker with policy, but that it needs to back the sector up with real dollars, and soon, and not keep subjecting our hospitals to more and more ‘efficiency dividends’.”
In addition the report details concerns about the loss of certain powers in the proposed new Mental Health Bill.
“When the time finally comes to debate the new Mental Health Act it will be critical that we ensure the Council of Official Visitors, in its proposed restructure, retain all its existing powers. If anything, this latest report highlights just how essential this Council has become in protecting the human rights of those with mental illness,” Ms Xamon concluded.
Hon Alison Xamon MLC
Member for the East Metropolitan Region
Office: 62 Eighth Ave Maylands WA 6051
Postal Address: PO Box 104 Maylands WA 6931
Phone: (08) 9272 1718
Fax: (08) 9272 1719
Portfolios: Water, Urban Bushland, Mental Health, Education, Training, Industrial Relations, Employment, Occupational Health & Safety, Disabilities, Women, Children & Youth, Public Service, Community Services, Electoral Affairs, Consumer Protection, Vet Affairs, Volunteering