Mental Health Patients

30 May 2005 questionsarchive

I seek leave to make an explanation before asking a question of the Minister Assisting in Mental Health.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: On Friday the 27th, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare released a report entitled Australian Hospital Statistics 2003-04, and in it it refers in particular to a number of statistics relating to hospital separations, which are defined in its glossary as the total number of episodes of care for admitted patients which can be total hospital stays from admissions to discharge, transfer or death, or portions of hospital stays beginning or ending at a change of type of care; for example, from acute to rehabilitation that ceased during a reference period.

The report states that the highest proportion—and I think this is in relation to separations of public patients in the public hospitals rather than in private hospitals—was for the classification under mental and behavioural disorders. On page 179 it says that tables 9.3 and 9.4 contain detail on the pattern of hospital use in the states and territories for the diagnosis chapters in both the public and private sectors.

These tables enable state-by-state comparisons of overall hospital use for the different diagnosis groups and the share of separations between the private and public sectors.

Further, on page 181 it states that the average length of stay was high for most of the disease groups and that only 18.1 per cent of separations were same-day separations—this is in relation to mental health patients—compared with 49 per cent in public hospitals overall. Then in table 9.3 it provides the separations by principal diagnosis in public hospitals for all states and territories in which, under mental health and behavioural disorders, it states that the number was 16 550, which I note is an increase of 4.2 per cent from 2002-03, which was 15 882. The table on the next page relates to the same issue for private hospitals, and in South Australia the measure is 3 061 separations in private hospitals in this state, which is actually one quarter of the previous year at 12 541.

My questions for the minister are:

1. To what does she attribute the increase in hospital separations in the public system and such a dramatic fall from those figures so that the 2003-04 figures in private hospitals are merely one quarter of the previous year?

2. Given the amount of time that mental health clients spend in the hospital system, both private and public, compared to in the general hospital system, why is the government closing Glenside?

The Hon. CARMEL ZOLLO (Minister Assisting in Mental Health): I thank the honourable member for her questions, and I am sure that she joins everybody in the chamber in welcoming the $45 million funding boost for mental health in this state. The honourable member obviously was reading from a report which I have not seen, I must admit, and she raised some important issues in relation to operational matters, to which I am certainly not able to respond here on the floor of the council. I will take some advice and also refer those questions to the Minister for Health in the other place and bring back a response.