Michelle Lensink

More Beds, Less Beds - How Many Actual Beds For Mental Health?

The Rann Labor Government have again demonstrated their sloppy and haphazard approach in the area of mental health by stating varying figures on the number of beds allocated in the mental health system.

Opposition Leader Iain Evans said at different times the Rann Government had provided irregular numbers when advising on how many beds, whether they acute, extended or overall are currently being utilized within the mental health system.

“When releasing the Social Inclusion Board’s ‘Stepping Up’ report on mental health the Premier claimed that there are currently 430 mental health beds within South Australia, but in the report it says that there are 375 beds – a discrepancy of 55 beds,” Mr Evans said.

“Under the Rann Government there has been a significant cut in mental health beds available.

“This is a government that continues to break its’ promises and pulls the wool over the eyes of the public when it comes to mental health – they continue to prove over and over again that any promise they make cannot be trusted.

“Firstly they were shutting Glenside and now it’s staying open, but it won’t rule out the selling off of land or the closure of wards.

“Then we have the Minister for Mental Health advising that ‘We’re committed to the current levels of acute mental health bed numbers.’ (ABC, 16/10/06) followed by the Premier’s media release this week advising that mental health acute beds will be cut by 48.

“This is all despite numerous reports in October last year of waiting lists for acute beds of 30 at the Royal Adelaide Hospital and 10 at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Advice from stakeholders is that this would produce a crisis all of its own, putting both sufferers and the community at risk.”

Shadow Minister for Mental Health Michelle Lensink said that the Rann Government have not been transparent about bed numbers in South Australia and continue to ignore advice from stakeholder groups regarding effects on the community as beds close.

Ms Lensink said the government announcement to close the 129 bed extended rehabilitation service at Glenside was in direct opposition to the advice given during a recent coronial inquest into the death of Renato Dooma.

“The coronial inquest into Renato Dooma death tabled on the 21st December 2006 determined that because Mr Dooma was a treatment resistant chronic paranoid schizophrenic he was in need of an extended stay in a secure facility.

The Coroner found that the lack of secure extended rehabilitation beds contributed to his death,” Ms Lensink said.

“How can the Rann Government ignore the recommendations and finding of a Coronial Inquest and put patients and the community at such risk? “I don’t know how the Premier and Minister Gago sleep at night.

Their heads must be spinning from all the u-turns, flips and weaving they do on mental health issues in South Australia.”

Mr Evans said that it is about time the government came clean about the situation on mental health and stop relying on commissions, reports and reviews.

“It is time to listen to those within the system, the workers on the coalface and provide some serious answers.”

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