Waiting adds to mental anguish
Victorian Health Service performance data for the October-December 2011 quarter shows 141 mental health patients were left languishing for eight or more hours, a 14 per cent rise on the previous quarter.
Opposition mental health spokesman Wade Noonan said the “disgraceful set of numbers” was reflected across the state.
“These figures demonstrate there aren’t enough acute beds to service the number of mentally ill people in Melbourne’s west.”
A Monash University-Victoria Police study has found police apprehend a mentally disturbed person on average every two hours.
Many have threatened or attempted suicide or other self-harm and most are taken to a hospital emergency department.
The study showed 4798 such patients being taken to hospital by police between December 2009 and November 2010.
Western Health CEO Kathryn Cook said servicing the fastest-growing population area in Australia had “a huge impact” on demand.
“Sunshine and Western hospitals continue to experience high demand for emergency department services.”
Western Health is working to expand short-stay units at both hospitals, but this has forced the short-term closure of Sunshine’s unit and half the beds in the Western Hospital unit.
“That has impacted on our ability to treat patients in a timely manner.”
Sunshine Hospital will have 12 beds, up from six, as of this week and Western Hospital 12, up from eight, from the end of June.