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Reform Deeply Needed

Apparent workplace dissatisfaction at Latrobe Regional Hospital’s adult psychiatric unit, Flynn Ward, is eroding the service’s ability to cater for the region’s growing mental health needs, according to a leading advocate.

Derek Amos, chief executive of mental health advocacy group Barrier Breakers, said worker conditions and patient satisfaction at the ward had been a point of contention for some time.
“There’s been long-standing concerns about what they call the ‘fishbowl attitude’ at Flynn at the nurses stations, where the nurses were very rarely seen to be out in wards with the patients,” Mr Amos said.

“In our last communication with (LRH earlier this year) they informed us they would be changing their procedures, and nurses were going to spend a lot more time out on ward with patients.” The Express has been contacted by three mental health carers deeply dissatisfied with the treatment of their patients – in all cases close relatives – during admissions to the Flynn ward over the past 12 months.
“Whichever way you look at it, this all stems from an under resourced system, which is really the crux of the problem here,” Mr Amos said. “When there is such a great thoroughfare of patients through Flynn, there’s no question you are failing to address your patient’s needs, and there are a lot of staff who find that difficult to live with.”

Mr Amos said the situation uncovered a “deep” need for regional mental health services to be governed by dedicated mental health boards.

“The LRH board is responsible for cancer, medicine and all sorts of other departments and responsibilities, but we argue that mental illness is far more complex and deserves its own dedicated group of people to monitor accountability and respond to needs as they arise,” Mr Amos said.

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