An adolescent mental health unit being established at Launceston General Hospital will do little to address growing demand, unions say, as more young people continue to be admitted to adult psychiatric wards.
Last week a 14-year-old was discharged after spending three weeks as an inpatient at the hospital's Northside mental health clinic.
Describing the setting as "totally inappropriate", Health and Community Services Union Tasmania assistant secretary Robbie Moore said it was an ongoing issue that two allocated mental health rooms in the redeveloped Ward 4K would not address.
"It just highlights the fact that we don't have a dedicated place for young people with mental illness," he said.
"There has been constant announcements in relation to having a dedicated facility for young people.
"But the reality is the demand on the system means they are cynical they will ever actually achieve that."
MORE ON THE WARD 4K DEVELOPMENT:
An eight-bed, dedicated adolescent mental health unit will form part of the $20 million Ward 4K upgrade, due for completion in 2020.
However, it is understood only two beds have been designed for high-risk adolescents presenting as mental health patients.
In a statement, Mental Health Minister Jeremy Rockliff said the government was delivering additional beds at the LGH, and working on the right mix.
"Decisions about the use of those beds, including adolescent mental health beds within a broader adolescent unit, will be determined based on clinical need," he said.
"The government is working closely with the experts to get the right model of care and mix of staffing for all our new mental health facilities, which includes bed allocation."
A lack of acute mental health beds at LGH was also highlighted in January when a child whose mental health condition deteriorated was denied a bed despite assurances she would receive one.
Her family later discovered the bed had been taken by a 22-year-old man who was exhibiting psychotic behaviour due to illicit drug use.
The mental health component of the Ward 4K development came after a growing number of children were finding themselves in the acute mental health unit, including an autistic teenager who spent almost 12 weeks in Northside in 2017.
Nurses also threatened industrial action due to safety and staffing concerns.
The federal government this year announced an additional $630,000 for Headspace services in Northern Tasmania to help reduce waiting times for young people seeking mental health support, including funding for a new clinical psychologist in Launceston.