Psychiatrists fear workforce will soon be dangerously overloaded

25 March 2021
 
 
 

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) Western Australia Branch has warned the WA Government that their plans for increased mental health beds comes with great risk without additional supporting resources.

The recent Code Yellow alerts at Perth hospitals is indicative of the pressures being felt by our hospital and mental health systems.

Chair of the RANZCP WA Branch, Professor Megan Galbally, explained that whilst the increase in mental health beds are welcome, without the additional resources to support the state’s already overburdened mental health workforce, the system will only continue to suffer.

‘We want all Western Australians to have access to a high-quality mental health system which can provide a seamless continuum of care, from acute crisis care to ongoing recovery and rehabilitation services in the community’, explained Professor Megan Galbally.

‘However, by announcing more beds without more psychiatry positions available, the government is risking worsening the backlog of cases we are already seeing.

‘The system we have now is fragmented, it’s broken.  People wait for longer than they should for a mental health bed to become available, creating a bottleneck in our emergency departments.

‘But simply announcing more mental health beds isn’t enough. We need commitment from the government that they are going to provide us with the resources needed to grow and support the mental health workforce to be able to cope with the increase in beds.

‘We simply don’t have the number of psychiatrists to cope with the demand we have now, and it’s only going to get worse without a comprehensive plan moving forward.’

The RANZCP earlier this year provided the WA Government with a roadmap to What’s needed to improve the mental health system and guide it towards becoming a system that can service every citizen of WA, regardless of age, situation or geographical location.

‘Our Budget submission sets out a roadmap for the Western Australian government to bolster mental health services to meet the needs of the community and achieve positive outcomes for all those seeking mental health treatment and support.

‘We have prioritised the key areas we believe need to be addressed for Western Australians to have access to effective, efficient and equitable mental health-care.

‘The focus needs to be on more than just announcing additional mental health beds, we need a holistic approach to mental health care, from early intervention and prevention right through to community-based care that can, and will, provide an alternative to emergency departments and prevent hospital admissions.

‘The government needs to listen to those on the frontline of the mental health crisis in our state and hear what we have to say when it comes to what’s needed.

For more information, read the RANZCP WA Branch Budget submission – What’s needed.

For all other expert mental health information, visit Your Health in Mind, the RANZCP’s consumer health information website.

ENQUIRIES: For more information, or to arrange an interview call Sarah Carr on +61 437 315 911, or email media@ranzcp.org.