Facilities for people with severe mental illness and specialised units for eating disorders are among key areas that should be prioritised as part of the Launceston General Hospital masterplan, according to the state's peak body for psychiatrists.
In a submission to the Health Department, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists Tasmania branch identified five areas it says should receive priority funding under the plan, aimed at guiding the hospital's redevelopment over the next 20 years.
This week a leaked meeting paper from the Tasmania Health Service's northern executive revealed key findings of the draft masterplan, with recommendations to endorse a four-stage redevelopment of the hospital precinct.
This includes plans for a new mental health precinct on the Anne O'Byrne site with a co-located in-patient unit, community based mental health services and alcohol and drug services.
In its submission, RANZCP identified the "immense pressure" on emergency departments to treat and assess people "experiencing a mental health crisis, are drug affected or are suffering from severe psychosis or delirium, as well as people in suicidal distress which may not be related to mental illness".
"The pressure on emergency departments is reflective of broader issues related to the availability of beds and in-patient facilities, as well as appropriate access to stepped-care mental health services in the community," it reads.
"It is important the masterplan is forward-thinking and considerate of the changing demographics of the region."
The college calls for purpose-built units for people with severe mental illness and challenging behaviour, and says the hospital's existing Northside side unit - an in-patient mental health clinic - is no longer fit for purpose.
"Due to absence of appropriate services, these patients are frequently presenting to emergency departments in acute crisis, psychosis or delirium to receive care," the submission reads.
"The flow on effects include bed access blocks while these patients are being kept for extended periods within EDs leading to frequent and unnecessary re-admissions."
The college also calls for specialised units for eating disorders and perinatal care, with no existing appropriate facilities within the LGH to care for women with experiencing serious postpartum depression or psychosis.
It also identifies the need for an outpatient child and adolescent mental health service to be located within paediatrics; a dedicated neurostimulation unit; and an integrated mental health care triage service to coordinate intake, community treatment, crisis assessment teams and the department of emergency medicine.
The draft masterplan is expected to be presented to Health Minister Sarah Courtney by the end of the month, and then released for further consultation from March.
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