A concerned mother has spoken out after a man, known to be on drugs, was given a bed at Launceston General Hospital’s acute mental health unit, while her daughter missed out.
The 22-year-old, who has a history of mental ill-health, presented at the hospital’s emergency department on Sunday after attempting self-harm.
The mother said she was expecting her daughter to be admitted to the Northside Mental Health Clinic but was told by a doctor that there was no bed available.
A Tasmanian Health Service spokesman said any decision regarding patient admission or discharge was made by an appropriately trained doctor, assessing a patient’s clinical condition and treatment need.
“Decisions relating to admission are on the basis of risk and need, not necessarily the cause of the behaviour, or when a patient presented,” the spokesman said.
The mother said the system failed her daughter during “a moment of crisis”.
“We were told there was a bed and we were so relieved because we were so desperate for her to get help,” the mother said.
“Then at the last minute, we were told the bed was no longer available.
“When I spoke to the man’s family who was admitted, they said he was on crack.
“That was the last straw for me.”
The woman said her daughter had been living with mental illness for the past five years and had been working through her issues with Headspace, on advice from a doctor.
However, she said her daughter’s condition had continued to deteriorate.
“I feel like if my daughter had been on drugs, she would have had a better chance of getting admitted,” she said.
“I am just a desperate mother who will do anything to help her daughter.
“I don’t want to say that my daughter’s needs are greater than someone else.
“I know drug addicts need help, but my daughter also needs help.”
The spokesman said the THS does not publicly discuss the details of individual patients, particularly mental health patients, and those decisions over patient admissions were “made by clinicians making a determination based on clinical factors”.
Health and Community Services Union assistant state secretary Robbie Moore described the case as worrying and said staff had been calling for a child and adolescent mental health facility – separate to a hospital environment – for years.
“We know there is a 16-year-old in there [Northside] at the moment,” he said.
“All 16 beds are taken, along with four in the HDU [high dependency unit].
“A hospital setting like Northside is not an appropriate setting for young people.
“We are repeatedly getting more and more young people who require long-term care and the beds aren’t there.
“Plus people seeking treatment to alcohol and drug services quite often can’t get access to the services they need, so they end up at the hospital as well.”
Health Minister Michael Ferguson said the government was focused on building a better mental health system.
This includes a child and adolescent mental health facility that is due to open in September as part of the redeveloped ward 4K.
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