SASMOA and the Australian Human Rights Commission

07-Jun-2019


ASMOF NSW’s South Australian colleagues ‘South Australian Salaried Medical Officers Association’ (“SASMOA”) recently announced that they had taken their most “drastic action” ever over the conditions and treatment that mental health patients experience in most South Australian metropolitan public hospital emergency departments.

On 14 May 2019, SASMOA made a complaint regarding this issue to the Australian Human Rights Commission (“AHRC”).

SASMOA’s Senior Industrial Officer Bernadette Mulholland stated “we’ve never been required to take action like this but the situation has become quite dire”. She advised that SASMOA have been monitoring the situation for more than 4 years.

SASMOA submitted the following as concerns noted in public hospital emergency departments in South Australia in its complaint to the AHRC:

  • There is an inequality of care given to patients with mental health issues compared to patients with a physical condition.
  • There are no workable strategies implemented by the hospitals to address long-stay mental health patients in the emergency departments.
  • There is no equality in the resources of services and accessibility for mental health patients in health services as compared to patients with physical ailments.
  • There is an increase use of sedation (physical and chemical) on mental patients because of the length of stay in emergency departments.
  • The emergency department environment is known by the hospital Administration to be non-therapeutic for mental health patients, and can lead to an exacerbation of the mental health
  • patient's condition, posing increased risk to the mental health patient, clinicians and other patients.
  • Failure by the hospitals and Department for Health and Wellbeing, to protect and promote patients who present with mental health conditions to the emergency departments.
  • Failure by the hospitals and Department for Health and Wellbeing to eliminate discrimination in the provision of care to patients presenting with a mental health condition and the provision of accommodation and services both within the hospitals and mental health services.
  • Failure by the hospitals and Department for Health and Wellbeing to provide accessible medical facilities to mental health patients in our hospitals and health system within a reasonable and acceptable period relating to the mental health patient needs.
  • Failure by the hospitals and Department for Health and Wellbeing to provide patients with a mental health condition, the same range and quality of care as other patients presenting with a physical condition.
  • Failure by the hospitals and Department for Health and Wellbeing to provide early and appropriate treatment and intervention and quality of care by hospitals to mental health patients in the emergency departments and the hospitals.
  • Denial of appropriate health care in hospitals because the patient is a mental health patient.

SASMOA urged the AHRC to conduct a review/investigation into these concerns and the discrimination faced by mental health patients in South Australian public hospital emergency departments.

You can read the ABC story here.