Emergency wait times for mental health patients dangerous


Unacceptably long wait times for mental health patients in emergency departments is putting lives in danger, says Greens MP and mental health spokesperson Cate Faehrmann.

A report released today by the Bureau of Health Information focusing on mental health services wait times found that one in 10 mentally ill people presenting to emergency departments are in south-west Sydney hospitals are there for more than 24 hours.

“Today’s report shows that people experiencing mental health-related issues are waiting longer for treatment than other patients, sometimes more than 24 hours. It’s unacceptable that people who are already incredibly distressed not only wait longer but  are reporting more negative experiences with the care they’re receiving.” Greens MP and mental health spokesperson Cate Faehrmann said. 

“The Minister for Mental Health has recently sidestepped questions in regards to the support given at hospitals for patients presenting with acute mental health conditions citing ongoing investigations into individual incidents. But what this report shows is that these these incidents aren’t isolated. There are systemic issues in our mental healthcare system that need to be addressed. 

“The Greens welcome the Bureau’s first report into the entire mental health system and the insights it has provided. Now we are calling on the government to acknowledge the failures  and take immediate action to address them.

“This includes ensuring emergency departments are equipped with appropriately qualified personnel and wraparound support services so that people presenting with acute mental health conditions can be immediately supported.

“The longer patients suffering from mental health problems wait in emergency departments, the greater the risk of them discharging themselves without receiving treatment is, putting theirs and other lives in danger,” said Ms Faehrmann.

Contact: Ben Cronly, 0487 247 960