Page 183 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 28 November 2012

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MS GALLAGHER: What other options there are? There are other options: the step-up, step-down facilities, of which we are commissioning more. The mental health assessment unit, which this government actually started and funded—

Mr Smyth interjecting—

MS GALLAGHER: Mr Smyth, it one of those “you thought about it, you wrote the theme song, you sang the theme song”.

Mr Smyth interjecting—

MS GALLAGHER: In every area of government it was your idea, you pressured for it, you got it.

MADAM SPEAKER: Ms Gallagher, could you sit down, please. Ms Gallagher, you were asked a question by Mr Coe about options. You were distracted by Mr Smyth. Do you want to answer the question? Do you have anything more to say to Mr Coe’s question about options?

MS GALLAGHER: I will. The options are more community supported accommodation. It is looking at the operations of 2N, which is also a mental health unit, and the occupancy rates there. So that comes through our network of services. It also looks at the capacity within the acute mental health unit. I agree it is not ideal to be running a unit at that bed occupancy. We are working with the staff around that, but the simple answer of extra beds is not one that is sustainable or cost efficient in the long run.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Hanson.

MR HANSON: Minister, is it a regular occurrence that patients spend extended periods in the assessment unit, such as the patient who spent three days waiting before being sent home?

MS GALLAGHER: It is difficult to answer that question but, yes, there are long-stay patients that stay in the mental health assessment unit, and they will do that for a number of reasons. It is one of the issues with our four-hour rule within the ED. The mental health assessment unit was never set up to just quickly process people through that, because a number of people come to that unit and they will stay for four, six or eight hours and then they will be supported at home. Whether they have people who are caring for them at home, whether they have stabilised—all of those issues are met through a clinical mental health response.

In terms of the focus on EDs around timeliness, because the mental health assessment unit is classified within the emergency department, that does place pressure on pushing people through that unit very quickly. I know there are times when you can have waits—long admissions, waiting and a bed in the adult mental health unit. My response to that, Mr Hanson, would be: are they better off staying in an area where

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