General News Politics — 11 April 2013

The management and operation of the Princess Alexandra Hospital’s mental  health unit is set to be reviewed following a series of Fairfax Media articles  revealing concerns about the centre.

The articles stemmed from a coronial inquest into the death of two patients  from the unit who took their own lives at a nearby building. Up to 10 patients  have done the same thing at the known “suicide hot spot”.

Many parents and partners of patients, plus patients themselves, have spoken  with Fairfax Media in the past week.

Mr Springborg said he had on Wednesday morning asked for information about  the operation of the PA Hospital’s mental health clinic.

He said the initial advice was that the clinic was ‘‘meeting its  accreditation’’ standards set by a mental health peak body.

‘‘However I am certainly concerned by what is being said,’’ he said.

‘‘And, from my perspective, I will be seeking assurances that in all of the  requirements that are laid down by the Health Department are being met.’’

Mr Springborg said he did not want to ‘‘jump beyond that at this stage’’.

He said any issues at the unit would be explored by the new Queensland Mental  Health Commission, which was set to begin operating in the second half of this  year.

‘‘The whole point of it is for them to look at the adequacy of existing  services, how we are running our services and making sure we get the right  balance of acute services and community-based services,’’ he said.

The January 25 report by Brisbane coroner John Lock, seriously questioned  staff procedures at the centre.

His report revealed one of the patients, a 28-year-old man, had been drinking  three bottles of vodka a day inside the ward –  without being stopped by  staff – in the period before he took his own  life.

He  also noted staff had been unable to locate some patients despite them  needing to be observed every 15 minutes, no patient information was passed  between staff at shift changes, and he questioned patients’ length of stay.

Richard Ashby, chief executive of the Metro South health district, said on  Wednesday the unit was meeting  national accreditation standards, set by the Australian Council on  Healthcare Standards.

‘‘At the last independent external review in October 2012 Metro South Mental  Health Service met all the standards of the ACHS and there were no high priority  recommendations for improvement,’’ Dr Ashby said.
Mr Springborg said the  PA Hospital’s mental health unit was an ‘‘open unit’’, meaning most patients  could come and go freely.

‘‘This is one of the issues – we don’t run a prison system there, people are  generally free to come and go,’’ he said.

The PA Hospital’s mental health unit sees both involuntary patients – who are  assigned by psychiatrists as either inpatients, or patients able to live in the  community – and voluntary patients.

‘‘The whole thing is they are required to present for medication and they  have certain requirements about it, but people can generally come and go  freely,’’ Mr Springborg said.

Mr Springborg said he was open to new talks about suicide prevention measures  between Queensland Health and the private owners of the nearby building where  the patients had taken their lives.

As first reported by Brisbane Times, 11 April 2013. Read more:


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