New Centre to Reduce ED Pressure and Boost Patient Services

Planning is underway for a new Urgent Mental Health Care Centre (UMHCC), which will help to ease pressure on hospital emergency departments by providing an alternative care option for thousands of South Australians.

The new Centre will be close to the Royal Adelaide Hospital, helping to reduce reliance on metropolitan Emergency Departments (EDs).

The Centre will focus on the 5,500 mental health consumers who present annually, and are triaged as urgent or less urgent – Categories 3 Urgent, 4 Semi-urgent and 5 Non-urgent.

SA Health has now released the tender for the project, which will create dozens of local jobs during the Centre’s construction.

Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said the Centre will initially take referrals from SA Ambulance Service (SAAS), SA Police and the crisis telephone service. Over time, it will provide a walk-in support for people who self-present.

“The Centre is another way the Marshall Liberal Government is delivering on its commitments to ease pressure on the state’s Emergency Departments and provide more appropriate support for mental health consumers,” he said.

“We want to ensure the UMHCC provides access to care in a more therapeutic environment where consumers and carers feel welcome and can receive assessment, treatment, and support in a timely way, and are connected with appropriate services.

“The service is expected to link with existing community mental health services and non-government mental health crisis services that can provide follow-up care at home and in the community. People who require admission will be transferred to hospital.

“While we have already increased mental health bed capacity at the Royal Adelaide Hospital and Lyell McEwin Hospital, the new centre is just one of a range of new targeted projects aimed to improve access and delivery of mental health services in South Australia.”

The release of the tender comes as recent data shows the Marshall Government has reduced “ramping” or transfer of care waiting times by 10 per cent year-on-year (January 2019 compared to January 2020) and by 35 per cent since September 2019.

Chief Psychiatrist, Dr John Brayley, said the establishment of an UMHCC was a key priority outlined in 2020-2025 Mental Health Services Plan.

“There is a particular focus in the Plan towards community alternatives including new models, improved access to non-drug therapies, and improved safety and quality of services,” Dr Brayley said.

“Based on successful best practice models overseas, the design of the new UMHCC will include consultation rooms, and a ‘living room’ environment for people to sit in rather than hospital-style cubicles.

“There will also be mental health peer workers working alongside a clinical team including nursing staff, allied health staff, medical staff and psychiatrists.”

The Expression of Interest tender process will identify a service provider who will co-design with consumers and carers the layout of the facility and the procedures that the service will follow.

The detailed planning of the UMHCC will be in collaboration with consumers, carers, and practitioners, working closely with SAAS, SA Police, Local Health Networks, Primary Health Networks, non-government providers, and other partners.

Following site selection and service fit out, the new UMHCC is expected to be operating later this year and will initially operate 12 hours a day, seven days a week.

The SA Urgent Mental Health Centre is funded through a $14 million capital and operating investment by the Federal Government, and is one of eight adult mental health centres to be developed across the nation.

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