Thursday, January 12, 2006

Psychiatric care fails patients

Well blow me over with a feather....You don't say!

I am not throwing stones at my own argument here, but what is the bloody point of the government paying money for woolly reports like this.

I could have told them that....and have been trying to tell people that for years.

I take my hat off to people like Marjorie Wallace of SANE who has the patience and perseverance to be a voice out there battling for sufferers of mental health problems in our community.

The resources the government wastes in psychiatric hospitals, for an almost primitive service is a disgrace. The system is crumbling around us, people write reports, they pledge money, nothing changes.

As it crumbles, the staff who have dedicated their lives in trying to help these people are lured off into the private sector. Quite frankly I am not surprised, but it is a crying shame. People who have it within them to make a difference do it because they DO want to make a difference. But to do this they need support and resources which they are not getting. So what does the government do? It hires agency staff at ludicrous hourly rates, in their thousands. Money well spent I say.

Most of these staff come from abroad to make a quick buck. All they are interested in is clocking up the hours, filling in their time sheets and collecting the cash. Even if they are more well intentioned, they are completely unable to make any difference whatsoever as they are shuffled from one hospital to another on a daily basis. This gives neither them or the patients any consistency and helps no one.

'Too many patients are fearful of mental health services'....well I wonder why?! Filthy wards, terrible food, no privacy or security, possessions stolen on a regular basis, violence, suicides, I could go on. These environments would make even the sanest of people fall apart.

'More patients than beds'......and do you know what they do with them when they can't find a bed?...they put them in PRISON! For weeks, sometimes months until a bed becomes available. Constructive.

'Too many people are also fearful of those with mental health problems'....fuelled by tabloid headlines about crazy murderers let out of hospital too early. Do you know how many people are murdered by sane people every year?...hundreds. Only a handful are killed by people with mental health problems (despite the fact that 1 in 4 of us suffer from mental illness at some stage in our lives) yet they hit the headlines every time.

And whilst I'm at it, none of these reports ever seem to mention the starkly obvious fact that 90% of patients in psychiatric hospitals are black males. Why I wonder?

I'll get off that particular soap box now.