It is “unacceptable” an 11-year-old boy presenting with acute mental ill-health at the Launceston General Hospital had to wait 60 hours in the emergency department, the Australian Medical Association says.
The boy, who attempted self harm, was brought to hospital last Wednesday.
It is understood he had no physical ailments, and was brought to the department for treatment for acute mental ill-health.
The boy remained in the emergency department under the supervision of police and security staff on Thursday evening, despite having presented to the emergency department on Wednesday morning.
A Tasmanian Health Service spokesman previously said that when patients with “complex” conditions presented for treatment, “the THS and its dedicated staff do everything possible ... to develop and deliver the very best of care”.
AMA Tasmania president John Davis said more acute mental health beds were needed to address issues with mental health care in the state.
“[Waiting] 60 hours in the emergency department is unacceptable for anyone,” Dr Davis said.
“There is enormous pressure on staff [in the health system].
“We don’t have [adequate] facilities in the acute mental health sector.”
Dr Davis said he was hopeful that the restructure of the Tasmanian Health Service would have “some impact” in terms of improving mental health care in the state.
The THS restructure came into effect on July 1, abolishing the organisation’s nine-person governing council and returning decision-making power back to Tasmanian hospitals.
Dr Davis’ comments come after health stakeholders last week called for interim solutions to be implemented at the LGH to improve the hospital’s in-patient capacity.
Both the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation and the Mental Health Council of Tasmania publicly stated the perceived need for short-term solutions to be devised in response to recent events.
Last Friday, Health Minister Michael Ferguson acknowledged the demand experienced by the state’s health system.
Mr Ferguson said the government was addressing the problem.
Specialist facilities for children and adolescents are being built in the form of Ward 4K at the LGH, which is set to open in 2019.
In December an inquiry into acute health in Tasmania found that child and adolescent in-patient mental health services were lacking.
The committee overseeing the inquiry released an interim report on its findings.
It stated that access block and overcrowded emergency departments were increasing the risk of “adverse patient outcomes” in the Tasmanian health system.
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