BENDIGO Health rejects claims its mental health service is in crisis.
The refutal comes after the release of the latest Office of the Public Advocate Community Visitors Report.
The report was tabled in parliament and includes reports of injuries sustained by patients, difficulties with the provision of 'timely' treatment plans, and lengthy waits in emergency departments for some mental health patients.
The report states Bendigo Health refuses to allow community visitors to view incident reports.
A Bendigo Health spokesperson said the challenges faced in caring for and treating mental health patients were not unique to the service, as highlighted in the Office of Public Advocate’s Report.
“Bendigo Health treats more than 4000 mental health patients each year, and sadly, the Office of Public Advocate’s Report only highlights a handful of cases where the community visitor believes that the care delivered may not have met the patients’ expectations," the spokesperson said.
“It’s well documented that mental health providers face an ongoing challenge of providing an environment that is secure, does not contravene the Mental Health Act’s ‘least restrictive practice’ requirements, but also promotes recovery.
“Unfortunately, the reality of acute mental illness is one where inpatients are suffering from complex conditions, including severe depression and paranoid delusions. Patients often present for care in a highly agitated and aggressive state and this often results in individuals putting themselves or others at risk regardless of the consequence."
According to the report, 39 patients absconded from the Alexander Bayne Centre between 2012-2013 with 21 absconding between January and June this year.
A government spokesperson said the Minister for Mental Health Mary Wooldridge recently inspected the adult acute unit at the Alexander Bayne Centre.
"The Minister takes these issues very seriously and following the most recent absconding incident asked Victoria's Chief Psychiatrist, Dr Mark Oakley Browne, for recommendations on how the safety and security of patients and staff can be further strengthened," he said.
"Dr Oakley Browne has advised the Minister that following discussions with the CEO of Bendigo Health and the Director of Clinical Services, he will undertake a review of recent absconding events and clinical practices related to patient treatment and care at the Alexander Bayne Centre."