Coroner’s report is evidence that Liberal health cuts put patients at risk

Coroner’s report is evidence that Liberal health cuts put patients at risk

A coroner’s report into a spate of tragic suicides of patients treated at the Alma Street Centre at Fremantle Hospital is proof that Barnett Government cutbacks are putting patients at risk.

The report examined the suicides of five patients between March 2011 and March 2012.

State Labor Member for Fremantle Simone McGurk said the report was highly critical of one of the state’s key mental health facilities.

“The coroner very explicitly calls for our mental health system to be properly resourced.

“The report also highlights how a patient at chronic risk of suicide was discharged by a member of staff who was still in training, had a heavy workload, and was covering other staff on leave,” she said.

A common theme in the report was that key staff were rushed and had heavy workloads, leading to lapses in care. The report also found standards were below what was expected of a professional health service.

“Time and again throughout the report, staff say they were rushed,” Ms McGurk said.

“Mental health clinicians were overworked and there were lapses in care.”

The report also notes a shortage of qualified and experienced mental health staff in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services and WA Country Health services.

The inquest comes after an extensive report in 2012 by former Health Director General Professor Bryant Stokes. Two and half years since that report, only a third of his 117 recommendations have been implemented.

“What is worrying, is that over the last year, there are now less staff at Alma Street, not more. Liberal cuts and redundancies have resulted in 50 fewer staff than in 2014.

“This report is clear evidence that government cuts to our health system have a direct and dangerous impact on Western Australians,” Ms McGurk said.