Intervention plan lifted as Mount Gambier Hospital improves mental health service

The head of the Limestone Coast Health Network has welcomed the lifting of conditions on the Mount Gambier Hospital’s mental health care service.

Limestone Coast Local Health Network chief executive Ngaire Buchanan said staff had worked hard to secure the State’s Chief Psychiatrist Dr John Brayley’s decision to revoke the temporary conditions.

“We have worked closely with OCP to address all concerns raised in relation to services provided to mental health presentations at Mount Gambier and Districts Health Service,” she said.

Dr Brayley gazetted temporary conditions that commenced on August 5, 2021 requiring that an intervention plan, approved by the Chief Psychiatrist, was in place to monitor and manage the quality and safety of mental health care in the service.

Dr Brayley last week ceased the conditions, acknowledging the extensive work undertaken by the Limestone Coast Local Health Network (LCLHN) Board, Executive, and staff to respond to the gazettal conditions.

“The conditions, that required an intervention plan, were put in place on 5 August 2021,” he said.

“This followed an inspection that identified issues relating to the management of at-risk patients who leave the emergency department, the current reliance on police assistance to manage patient behaviours of concern, the reporting of incidents, and some facility concerns which include the need for improvement in the duress system.

“The intervention plan was to monitor and manage the quality and safety of care in the service.

“Our office notes within the Mount Gambier and Districts Health Service there has been additional staff training, increased safety measures, improved reporting of incidents, and additional mental health medical staffing to address service demands.

“Furthermore, whilst not linked to the gazettal conditions, there has been an improvement to the outdoor space of the Integrated Mental Health Inpatient Unit (IMHIU), providing a more inviting and safer space for patients.

“The OCP completed a follow up inspection to review progress against the intervention plan and held regular meetings with staff and Executive to seek progress updates.

“Monitoring and improvement work will now continue as part of routine business for the service.

“Our office looks forward to continuing to work with LCLHN as they progress this work and as they pursue next steps.”

Ms Buchanan said she was proud of the staff who had worked together to address the recommendations set out by OCP and deliver improved services to mental health consumers.

“To help improve the service to mental health patients occupying beds in the general ward, we established a Mental Health Consultation Liaison and Triage Service for Mount Gambier Hospital, and recruited an additional Consultant Psychiatrist and Registrars.

“The additional medical workforce has provided greater capacity to address the service demands and provide care for mental health patients in general hospital beds,” she said.

“We have put in place strategies to reduce the reliance on police assistance to manage patient behaviours of concern, including increased training for key personnel and training for security firm staff.

“We conducted a review of procedures addressing challenging behaviour incidents and have increased security presence in ED at Mount Gambier Hospital at peak times, in addition to a security positioned outside the ED.

“We have had excellent participation in mental health training for Emergency Department (ED) staff, including South Australian Ambulance Service representatives, ED nurses, registered medical officers and mental health staff, and there has been a significant increase in reporting of challenging behaviour incidents, further encouraged through daily reminders to staff.

“We will continue to review and identify new ways to improve the system and are committed to continuous improvement of the service for our patients and staff.”

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