Southern NSW Health District defends Goulburn mental health care

THE Southern NSW Health District will not confirm details surrounding a reported attempted suicide at the Chisholm Ross Centre.

A spokesman would only say that an “incident” occurred on Saturday morning, September 10 “involving a consumer at the psycho-geriatric unit at Kenmore Hospital.”

Asked whether the patient had been deemed a suicide risk, the spokesman said due to privacy and confidentiality, it was not appropriate to comment on individuals’ condition and treatment.

But he gave some insight into what happened on the day. 

“The unit where the incident occurred is equipped with specialised equipment to assist ageing consumers with mobility issues,” he said.

“It has been in place since 2007 without incident. The equipment has now been removed from the facility.”

The Health District insists equipment is checked regularly for potential risks. Likewise, patients are also assessed and categorised.

Staff called an ambulance immediately, he said.

As for other incidents the source claimed, the Health District says managing “challenging behaviour” is part of acute care but patients are only discharged into the community when deemed safe.

“The Health District has a strict policy on the approval of leave and all incidents that occur while a consumer is on leave are investigated in order to minimise and future incidents occurring, the spokesman said.

He defended the nurse skill level, saying all staff had a high level of specific qualifications.

The NSW Nurses and Midwives Association told the Post it was not aware of a suicide attempt at Chisholm Ross but regardless, this was not unusual in such a facility.

However the Association is in dispute with the Health District over the skill mix at Chisholm Ross and Kenmore.

“There are assistants in nursing working in both facilities and we say they are not trained to work with patients so severe,” a spokeswoman said.

“They are working morning and afternoon shifts and management wants to extend this arrangement to the night shift.

“We are in dispute over that because we don’t believe AINs should be working in mental health.”

The AINs were introduced only in the past year in what the Association said was a cost-saving move.

It is a statewide measure.

The spokeswoman told the Post she couldn’t comment on whether the alleged incidents detailed by the anonymous source were the result of staff inexperience. 

“All I can say is we don’t agree with the skill mix. Talks are underway and we hope management reconsiders,” she said.

Read more:

'Inexperience risks lives'

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