As much as I hate trial by media once again I have to report an appalling case of Canberra Hospital dropping the ball when it comes to providing mental health services.
A young family member recently overdosed on illicit drugs in a Canberra nightclub and was taken to hospital by ambulance. The next morning he attempted to discharge himself in spite of clearly being quite ill and having a documented long history of mental illness. So of course the inevitable happens and he ends up getting only as far as Civic before having a psychotic episode putting himself and the public in danger. Thank goodness no one was hurt but I wonder if ACT Health would accept liability had you or your family been involved in this, which could have easily been the case.
I also would like to report how well the ACT Police handled this situation. It really shows how much they have stepped up to the challenge of dealing with these types of situations and I am very grateful to them for keeping my relative and the public safe in very challenging circumstances. I do think it’s a shame that they have to do ACT Health’s job for them and it’s obvious that even they are not happy about this.
The last straw in this incident was my conversation with the now infamous Crisis Assessment and Treatment Team. Remember them? The team that services suicidal people who then walk out and kill themselves?
I wish that I had recorded the conversation to play back here and highly recommend that people start doing this. Before attending the Police station to see my relative I called them to ask why he had been released and if I could return him to the hospital given his history and that he clearly was quite ill. I was trying to be proactive and prevent further incidences.
The response was that an evaluation had been done months earlier on this individual, and that if I returned to the hospital it would be a minimum of eight hours sitting in the emergency room before we would be seen. This was followed by the standard lecture on how triage works. Thankfully the ACT Government has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on television ads to explain why they can’t provide services at the hospital unless you’ve had an arm ripped off or someone as stupid as me wouldn’t understand that.
I would like to explain to the Government that providing emergency services DOES NOT preclude also providing quick professional services to those in great pain or need who haven’t had their arm ripped off. If they would stop spending so much time and money telling us why they can’t do this they might actually be able to hire more staff and some people who know how to provide services. I for one, am very tired of being treated in a condescending manner by people who simply can’t rise to the challenge.
My relative is now recovering and dealing with the consequences of his actions. Thanks to the Police and family, this is one time where you won’t read about it on the front page of the Canberra Times.