The Butterfly Effect: Poor access to non-acute psychiatric beds and the emergency department congestion crisis in WA

Stephen Allison, Tarun Bastiampillai, Jeffrey C.L. Looi, David Copolov

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

Abstract

Australia has a largely dehospitalised mental health system, where the vast majority of non-acute beds in stand-alone psychiatric hospitals have been closed.

Thus, Australia has considerably fewer psychiatric beds per capita than most other high-income countries, and is over-reliant on ever-shorter admissions to acute hospitals for most patients (Allison et al., 2020a). Extremely limited access to non-acute beds is leading to mental health access block, emergency department (ED) crowding, and delays in the transfer of care (TOC) from ambulances to EDs for both mental health and non-mental health patients. Patients are experiencing protracted periods in the confined space of an ambulance, without ready access to food, water or toilets, with heightened risks of clinical deterioration.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry
Early online date2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2021

Keywords

  • mental health system
  • psychiatric hospitals
  • mental health services

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