Save Tassie’s Mental Health

Thursday 11th October, 2012

Rather celebrating the successes of their service during mental health week clinicians and their supporters will be participating in a “Silent Vigil” on Thursday 11 October 2012Mrs Neroli Ellis, Australian Nursing Federation (Tasmanian Branch) said “clinicians want to do something to express their ongoing frustration and disappointment at the continued reduction of resources and to acknowledge the loss of front line positions.” 

As a result of the State Government budget savings strategies in 2011 mental health services has lost 12 inpatient beds at Campbell Street Centre; the Emergency Crisis Assessment Team service has been disbanded and inpatient mental health beds at RHH have been reduced as part of the RHH redevelopment,   In addition approximately 42 fulltime positions have been lost across the state: this from an already under resourced part of the health sector: Northwest (approx 14); North (approx 10) and South (approx 18).

The Tasmanian Branches of the Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) as well as members of the Community Public Sector Union (CPSU) and the Health Services Union (HSU) along with community members lobbied Federal and State politicians in an endeavour to get some relief from the deep budget cuts.  “This was to ensure the service to patients and clients was not only accessible but continued to safe with positive outcomes.  Clinicians working in the service do not believe the community they serve are receiving an acceptable standard of care” said Mrs Ellis.

“When the Federal Government agreed to provide $325M over four years, $15M was allocated to mental health services.  The initial feeling of some relief has since given way to further frustration and anger due to the fact that the federal rescue money will instead be allocated to non-government organisations rather than clinical services.  This will not assist clients or patients in need of urgent care.”

With the reduction in front line positions staff workloads have increased, fewer patients are being seen in a timely manner, the quality of care is limited by the time available, there has been an increase in hospital admissions and length of stay due to exacerbation of illness.  The unfortunate result means extended waits for mental health patients in emergency departments.  This is not a good situation for the mentally ill, or for other patients who present to these acute areas.

Mrs Ellis advises that “clinicians working in the department of psychiatry at RHH have voiced concerns and fears about the very high risk situation they are frequently expected to work in.  Currently the situation is to quote workers; ‘at a point of implosion’”

The Silent Vigil will be held at 12:30pm, Thursday 11 October, outside the executive Building 15 Murray Street Hobart.  We welcome community support to join all health care workers at this community rally.

For further information, please contact Neroli Ellis on 0408 037 589