Immediate action to build on mental health reform

The Marshall Liberal Government is taking immediate action to build on mental health reform in South Australia, following last week’s mental health workshop and national meeting of Mental Health Ministers.

Actions items include measures to address the prioritisation of urgent care for mental health patients, establishing a pathway for load levelling of mental health pressures across our LHNs and facilitating sustainable workforce management.

The Marshall Liberal Government will immediately:

  • Enable Priority Care Centres across Adelaide to take mental health patients
  • Operationalise (following consultation) a new Statewide Demand and Escalation Policy which integrates mental health and general health responses, supporting Local Health Networks (LHNs) to work together and alleviate capacity pressures
  • Establish a pathway where mental health inpatients are no longer required to be transported from hospital by ambulance for non-urgent treatment
  • Suspend the practice where LHNs have been constrained in filling vacancies left by staff members who leave on secondment, where only short term contracts have been offered to new staff (which can be as little as three months).

Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said while there was much more to be delivered in the medium and longer term, the Government considers that these immediate action items to support the state’s mental health system.

“Last week’s workshop was a key event for a broad range of stakeholders to come together to progress mental health reform – the Marshall Liberal Government shares this group’s passion for mental health reform in South Australia,” said Minister Wade.

“While the workshop demonstrated significant support for the direction of the Mental Health Services Plan, we also heard the calls for action in the short term to respond to increased pressure in mental health services, emergency departments and ambulance services.

“We are listening and have moved quickly to deliver a suite of measures designed to provide immediate relief to the mental health system.

“By removing the requirement for mental health patients to be transported by ambulance out of hospital for non-urgent treatment, this will ensure they can get to appointments more efficiently, while also freeing up more ambulances to get to people who need them.

“By operationalising an escalation pathway to better guide distribution of mental health transfers, LHNs will be able to better manage capacity in hospitals. We will now consult with LHNs with a view to operationalising this as soon as possible.

“Workforce was also a strong focus at both last week’s workshop and the national meeting of health ministers. An immediate action will see LHNs empowered to fill vacancies for longer than three months when replacing staff who have left on secondment, providing more stability and making it easier to recruit and retain staff.

“The Government is working on a range of other issues raised at the workshop and in the broader community discussion. Further announcements on mental health services will be made before, at and after the State Budget next month.

“We are committed to deliver short, medium and long term reform for mental health in South Australia. We have made significant progress in this area but there is still more to be done.

“Our Mental Health Services Plan will continue to drive system wide reform, and we will continue to listen to and respond to feedback as we implement it.”

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