Racefan’s Ramblings

Collecting my thoughts, news and inspirations on Tech, Psychology, Motorsport and … well anything!! . . . . . . . . . STILL UNDER DEVELOPMENT IN LIMITED SPARE TIME!

AMA worried mental health patients being jailed

Posted by Pat Kershaw on November 10, 2006

This I found just minutes after posting my last post. It was on the ABC News Online website. Interesting extention to my previous thoughts.

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) says rural mental health patients are ending up in jail cells because there are not enough beds in regional areas.

The group is calling on state and federal governments to make a significant boost to mental health services as the drought drags on.

Dr David Rivette from the AMA’s rural reference group says public psychiatry has been grossly under-funded. He says incentives are needed to train more psychiatrists and to retain overworked mental health staff to work in country areas.

“We want more beds for them to go to in regional areas. I’ve had instances of patients having to be shipped all over the state to find an acute psychiatric bed,” he said. “It’s just not appropriate to keep them for long periods in small country hospitals when patients are acutely psychotic. It often means they have to be locked up in a police cell and be watched by the police.”

Dr Rivette says acutely ill patients are often not receiving the safest or best care. He says the drought is adding to the pressure on already inadequate services.

“Those doctors out west that I speak to say there’s definitely a rise in numbers of severely depressed patients, people thinking about self-harm,” he said. “So, yes, that is going to put some pressure on beds, there’s no question about that.”

Dr Rivette says psychiatry services in country New South Wales in particular are in worse shape than a decade ago.

“If there’s real advances I certainly haven’t seen them in my neck of the woods, I’d love to hear about them from anybody,” he said. “Things are worse now than they were five and 10 years ago. I certainly don’t see the situation improving, I see it going backwards.”

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