Community mental health services in Queensland have insufficient staff to carry out their work, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists Queensland Branch (RANZCP QLD Branch) has warned.
The RANZCP QLD Branch Chair, Professor Brett Emmerson AM, has called upon the Queensland Government to make a significant commitment to improving community mental health services in the upcoming 2019-2020 Queensland Budget.
‘Apart from a one-off increase in 2018-19, Queensland’s core community mental health services have seen no growth in staffing over the past decade for children, adults and older persons,’ said Professor Emmerson.
‘The system is under intense strain as it treats the mental health issues of a growing population, with increasingly complex problems.’
Professor Emmerson emphasised that staffing in Queensland community mental health services is well below the accepted targets set in the National Mental Health Service Planning Framework. For example, staffing of mental health services for older persons is 70% below target whilst for adults it is 40% below target.
‘This means that community mental health services are not properly equipped to provide the full range of mental health care required by the Queensland community.’
‘There are grave concerns within the RANZCP QLD Branch and the wider psychiatry community across Queensland, that the Queensland Government is not committing much needed extra funding to community mental health services in the 2019-20 Budget.’
Professor Emmerson urged the Queensland Government to provide a dedicated increase in funding in community mental health services over the next three years to bolster staffing levels to national targets and deliver the mental health care which Queenslanders need.
‘Failure to provide growth funding puts people with mental health issues at increased risk of suicide and will put Queensland’s hospital emergency departments and inpatient mental health bed capacity under greater pressure.’
‘Community mental health services are reporting a growth in complex and high-risk patients, yet are not being resourced accordingly to provide the specialised treatment required.’
‘Community mental health services require ongoing investment now,’ said Professor Emmerson
‘If the Government is truly concerned about the mental health of the Queensland community, this must be addressed without delay.’
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