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.
‘‘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: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/reports-spark-mental-health-unit-review-20130410-2hlvj.html#ixzz2Q81tYaZ9