Jim McGinty

Jim McGinty

Attorney General; Minister for Health; Electoral Affairs

    New mental health facility for northern WA

    21/02/2008 12:00 AM

    People living in northern Western Australia will be able to access mental health services closer to home with the establishment of a $9.4million acute psychiatric unit in Broome.

    Health Minister Jim McGinty said the 14-bed unit would be the first of its kind in the north of the State and would greatly decrease the need for patients to travel to Perth.

    “This new APU will mean that people living in the Kimberley and Pilbara regions who are experiencing an acute psychiatric episode won’t, in the first instance, need to be flown all the way to Perth for treatment,” Mr McGinty said.

    “Once this unit is operational in late 2009, patients will be able to receive high-level care much closer to home, with the support of family, friends and their community.

    “This will lead to better patient care and a reduced demand on the Royal Flying Doctor Service and acute psychiatric facilities in Perth.”

    In 2007, 165 people were transferred from the Pilbara and Kimberley for mental health treatment in Perth. Once the new unit is completed, it is anticipated that 80 per cent of acute mental health patients from the two regions will be treated in Broome.

    The unit will initially open with a mix of 10 open and secure beds, with the remaining four beds to open when required. It will be staffed by more than 30 employees, including two psychiatrists and 21 mental health nurses, along with allied health, Aboriginal health, administration and support staff.

    The APU will have an annual operating budget of $3.2million in its first year of operation, growing to $5.1million when fully operational.

    The Minister said the unit would support the work of existing mental health services that provided a combination of inpatient, outreach and community care throughout the Kimberley and Pilbara regions.

    “The Kimberley Mental Health and Drug Service, Pilbara Mental Health and Drug Service, adult mental health teams, child and adolescent mental health teams and community drug services will work collaboratively with the APU to provide appropriate and co-ordinated care close to where people live,” he said.

    “A co-ordinator will work closely with each of the APU patients and their carers to ensure continuity of care and a smooth transition to or from the APU and community-based services.”

    Kimberley MLA Carol Martin said the unit was further evidence of the State Government’s commitment to providing new and upgraded health infrastructure in northern WA.

    “This is a major boost to mental health services in the region and will mean that patients and their families can access mental health services right here in the North-West,” Mrs Martin said.

    Construction of the APU will be undertaken as part of the $53.35million upgrade to transform Broome Hospital into a fully resourced Regional Resource Centre.

    The APU project is part of the $507million WA Mental Health Strategy 2004-2011, which is currently being implemented and will provide greater choice in treatment and a wider range of mental health facilities across the State.

    Mr McGinty said funding for the new APU was in addition to more than $100million currently being spent to upgrade health facilities and staff accommodation within the Kimberley region including:
    • $53.35million for major upgrades to Broome Hospital, which will see it become the regional resource centre for the Kimberley;
    • $15.7million for the new Fitzroy Crossing Hospital and dental clinic (officially opened yesterday);
    • $14.4million to upgrade Derby Hospital and dental clinic (opened in September last year);
    • $6.8million to upgrade Kununurra Hospital and provide a new public dental clinic (opened in October last year);
    • $8.7million for the new Halls Creek Hospital (which opened in 2006);
    • $2million to build a high care residential aged care facility in Kununurra (opened in 2005);
    • $4.5million to upgrade health infrastructure in Wyndham including the hospital; and
    • upgrades to staff accommodation across the region.
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