Another mental health crisis in our EDs
Another mental health patient has been shackled to a bed in emergency departments (EDs) at both Pt Augusta and Royal Adelaide Hospitals in four days of chaos, during which police were called after the patient threw himself through double plate glass windows.
“In four days of mayhem, a 29 year old mental health patient was detained and shuffled between two EDs before finally being admitted last night to a closed mental health care bed at Glenside,” Shadow Minister for Mental Health Martin Hamilton-Smith said.
“During this four-day disaster period, nurses, doctors, other ED patients and the family were put through hell, code black responses were called and police were deployed to both EDs.
“The patient’s family, including his mother Michelle Coles (herself a former nurse), are outraged that a lack of appropriate mental health care resources at Pt Augusta aggravated the patient’s condition putting everyone at risk.
“The patient presented at Pt Augusta Hospital around 6:30am Monday, but was not admitted to Glenside until late Thursday night, leading to mayhem in both EDs over this period.
“Clinical staff members have expressed alarm to the Opposition about this dangerous situation saying that the ED was not the right place for this patient.
“The family state their loved one was shackled to a bed at Pt Augusta Hospital for up to 25 hours during which police were called in to take him to the bathroom. He was again shackled at the RAH after becoming violent.
“In a panic, the patient threw himself head first through two sheets of glass at the RAH yesterday causing serious injuries that required him to be referred to Intensive Care. If the patient had been in an appropriate mental health ward, this may never have happened.
“In June, Parliament heard that Jacqui Davies, a prisoner with severe borderline personality disorder was shackled to a bed for 20 hours a day over 9 month period.
“And yesterday, an Ombudsman investigation found that prisoners who were mental health patients, including a pregnant woman, had been shackled inhumanely and possibly unlawfully.
“But this case does not involve a prisoner. This patient is a community member taken by his family to the emergency department at Pt Augusta for help and treatment.
“Doctors and nurses have done their best under difficult circumstances in this case. But it is the system which is failing as a result of this Labor Government’s failure to deliver on their promises and their inability to competently and properly run the mental health system.
“It is disgraceful that after ten years in office, this government is unable to provide proper mental health care support at Pt Augusta and at other country hospitals and that the system is unable to provide acute mental health beds more swiftly when needed
“Why did it take four days for the mental health patient to receive proper care?
“Why was this patient shuffled from one ED in Pt Augusta to another ED in Adelaide, rather than being sent directly from the country to a mental health care bed in Adelaide?
“The government’s decision to close mental health beds and to degrade emergency capabilities at Glenside means patients are forced upon other Adelaide Health Service EDs causing overcrowding and massive disruption to patients and EDs.
“We shouldn’t expect doctors and nurses to work under such stressful conditions.
“This is just another example of our emergency departments being overburdened with patients who should be receiving appropriate mental health care.
“This must have been traumatic for other patients in ED at both hospitals.
“Local Liberal MP for Stuart, Dan van Holst Pellekaan, who first raised this with me on behalf of the family, is as concerned as I am about this further failure of the health system.
“The patient’s mother Ms Michelle Coles and his family have every right to be disappointed and alarmed. They want to speak out in the hope that this will not happen to someone else’s son or brother,” Mr Hamilton-Smith said.