PATIENTS who have criminal issues need to be given a separate unit as part of a redeveloped mental health hub at Albury hospital.
That’s the view of Friends of Nolan House member Fred Ford who was responding to Albury lawyer Susan Robey last week blasting the resourcing of the mental heath unit.
Mr Ford, who has been affected by mental illness, said he largely agreed with Ms Robey’s concerns but he does not believe it is appropriate for those referred from courts to be accommodated in Nolan House.
“The in-patient unit was not built for or staffed for people being referred from courts, particularly people who are violent,” Mr Ford said.
“The staff are not trained for that sort of thing, they’re not correctional workers, they’re nurses for heaven sakes and the unit is not equipped for those issues.
“That’s why we have forensic mental health units.
“I’m not saying these people shouldn’t get help, but what I’m saying is that they shouldn’t be mixed with other people which is putting them in danger.
“If you’ve got someone that’s very suicidal and needs to be in that unit I wouldn’t like the thought of any person being in there with someone coming off ice or who has violent tendencies.”
Albury Wodonga Health, which administers Nolan House, declined to respond to Mr Ford.
However, it was noted that patients in the high dependency unit were separated to some degree and those not in that area had individual rooms.
Member for Albury Greg Aplin said last week a consultant had been appointed by Albury Wodonga Health to draft a plan for a new or upgraded Nolan House.
The Friends of Nolan House are expected to be consulted as part of that process.
Mr Ford said he believed a new Nolan House should have a separate unit for patients with court orders.
“If it’s going to be used for that situation then there should be thought of a new unit (for that type of patient) or with the revamp thought put into that,” he said.
The planned upgrade to Albury hospital’s emergency department provides for a separate entrance and treatment area for mental health patients, away from those with more general medical needs.
A timeframe for the consultancy over the new or upgraded Nolan House, which is estimated to have a $20-$30 million price tag, has yet to be determined.
Mr Aplin has indicated he would like it to be completed to allow the NSW government to bankroll a new unit in this year’s state budget.
However, before that budget the Coalition state government is facing an election in March with Mr Aplin ending his term as voters goes to the polling booths.
Mr Aplin’s likely successor Liberal Party candidate for Albury Justin Clancy said he was committed to “quality health services” with patient and worker safety, as well as clinical best practice, crucial in refurbishing Nolan House.
He said he was happy to speak to anyone about mental health needs.
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