Mental health patients face ‘critical’ delays

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A GROWING number of mental health patients are at increased risk because of critical delays in ACT emergency departments, says shadow health minister Vicki Dunne. 

Vicki Dunne.

In 2018-19, Mrs Dunne says patients presenting to ACT emergency departments with a mental illness waited on average 16.2 hours to be admitted into dedicated mental health care, up from 6.6 hours in the previous year.

And, she says documents obtained by the Canberra Liberals under Freedom of Information laws show a disproportionate number of mental health patients were waiting more than 24 hours to be treated – in comparison to non-mental health patients.

“The ACT’s mental health system is in crisis,” Mrs Dunne says.

“Critical delays to treatment are putting more mental health patients at risk, and exacerbating existing pressures in our emergency departments.

“I’m concerned the Barr government is adopting dangerous strategies that aren’t in the best interest of patients in order to reduce pressure in the Adult Mental Health Unit.”

Mrs Dunne is now calling on the ACT government to acknowledge that the mental health system is in crisis.

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