State government to take over mental health facility

State government to take over mental health facility

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Premier Roger Cook, Health Minister Amber Jade Sanderson, with David Scaife MLA and Stephen Pratt MLC, at the Bethesda Clinic.

The state government has entered into a three-year agreement to lease the Cockburn-based mental health clinic previously operated by Bethesda.

Earlier this year, Bethesda announced it would cease operating its private mental health clinic on 23 February after deeming it financially unviable.

The operator also claimed it was struggling to source psychiatrists willing to admit in-patients under their care, with private health rebates barely covering their services.

Bethesda Clinic was the first of its kind south of the river and had been open for less than a year.

The clinic offered a range of individual and group-based therapeutic programs including Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD), Mood and Anxiety, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, and Trauma Recovery.

After the closure was announced last month Minister for Health Amber Jade Sanderson called for action from the federal government and private insurers to fix the ailing system.

“There’s certainly more remuneration for psychiatrists to treat patients in their rooms and not do in-patient work,” she said.

“Work needs to be done by the private health funds and the Commonwealth government around the Medicare rebate, for that work.

“Currently the private health funds pay below break-even for those in-patient consultations so that really needs to be strongly addressed.”

On Monday Premier Roger Cook announced his government would reopen the 75-bed clinic.

He said South Metropolitan Health Service (SMHS) will operate the state-of-the-art, purpose-built facility in Cockburn, with services to progressively commence at the clinic in the coming weeks.

Under SMHS’s management, initial planned services will include two floors dedicated to a women’s mental health facility, with a particular focus on eating disorder services, and mixed gender Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) and addiction withdrawal services.

It’s expected a number of the clinic’s existing outpatient psychiatric services will continue to be provided, including models of care tailored to veterans and first responders.

SMHS has recruited staff from the Bethesda clinic to fill roles with the public health service.