Michelle Lensink

Glenside Hospital

I seek leave to make an explanation before asking the Minister for Mental Health and Substance Abuse a question about the Cedars in The Glen wards of Glenside.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: In recent weeks, I have been contacted by several constituents in relation to the Cedars in The Glen wards and closures thereof. The Cedars Downie House, which is a six-bed ward, was temporarily closed over Christmas. Now that it has been closed permanently, patients are being admitted to Rosewood. The Glen (which was raised in estimates last week) is a 24-bed facility and some of its patients are involved in the Returning Home project. Last week, the minister advised that it is ‘not scheduled to close in 2007’. The concerns that have been raised by these constituents are as follows: first, the staff of the Cedars were not even advised of its closure until the day it closed; and, secondly, the timetable for closure of The Glen will take place before all the community rehabilitation centres are operational, leading to a shortfall in rehabilitation and/or extended care beds. My questions are:

1. Will the minister verify whether these are the facts?

2. Does the government have an orderly plan for rehabilitation extended care beds and ward closures and, if so, will the minister outline to the parliament exactly what that is so that we can advise our constituents in future?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO(Minister for Mental Health and Substance Abuse): In relation to this ward, as I am sure the honourable member already knows because I have responded publicly to this matter, it was temporarily closed. It is about patient management and movement. Patients are moved and shifted around and units are opened and closed according to the needs and numbers of patients and also available staff.

This is not an unusual occurrence. It happens regularly and it has been happening for some time and, no doubt, it will continue to happen. In relation to this ward, following full consultation with the clients concerned and their families, the six patients in the CedarsWard were transferred to other part full wards in Glenside to ensure efficient staffing.

There has been no change to the care of or the teams treating these clients. As I said, this is quite normal procedure.

Wards are always being reconfigured to best suit patients and also staffing according to the variations in and types of admissions. Despite the opposition’s claims at the time—and, in fact, quite to the contrary—there was no reduction in mental health services in the system. In fact, we have increased services with the opening of Margaret Tobin and the soon to be opened Repat, but I am happy to speak about that a little later in my answer.

It should be noted that the 30 geriatric patients at Glenside will transfer very shortly to the purpose-built mental health complex at the Repatriation General Hospital. This will also result in a ward rationalisation with the remaining geriatric beds consolidated in Glenside’s Rosewood Ward. I also suspect and regret that, when this happens—it is pretty predictable—we will hear yet another outburst from the opposition in an attempt to scaremonger and again use the most vulnerable members in our community. This government has made no secret of the fact that Glenside patients will be transferred to the new facilities at the Repat and Margaret Tobin Centre as they come into service. The opposition’s continual attempt to denigrate the state of our mental health services through misrepresentation of the facts is doing nothing but harm to the morale of our valuable and most vulnerable mental health workers and creating unnecessary fear and apprehension amongst those patients and their families.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I have a supplementary question arising from the answer. In order to assuage any fear and apprehension in the community, will the minister provide the council with a masterplan for extended care and rehabilitation services?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO: Again, it is just sort of tedious, really. I have spoken in this council so many times before in terms of a masterplan for the Glenside site, for which I have responsibility. We have undertaken planning of the buildings on the site and are still doing an audit of what is there, the state of the buildings and so on. We have given commitments to continue services at that site. We have already given a commitment to the consolidation of Drug and Alcohol Services SA (DASSA) and an election commitment to the rural and remote services there also. I have gone to great lengths to outline the master planning process taking place on that site. We need to make sure we get it right. The scaremongering from the opposition will not force us into cutting corners or making mistakes.

These people are amongst the most vulnerable in the community and it is important we get our mental health services right. The interim report will not be completed until towards the end of this year. The Social Inclusion Board, as I have reported several times in this place, is undergoing a reform agenda for our mental health system and is looking at the types of services and the nature and level of services needed in this state, amongst other things. It is a comprehensive review it is doing. The masterplan for the Glenside site will take into consideration the outcomes from that process and final decisions will be made as to the nature and level of services to be provided from the Glenside campus.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: As a further supplementary, will the minister confirm that The Glen will not close before the community rehabilitation centres are operational?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO: I believe I have answered that question in terms of the way the configuration of services occurs. The Glen is certainly not scheduled to close in 2007.

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