Young patients receiving critical psychiatric care at a mental health ward in Sydney, Australia have been sent home to make space for “suspected” Covid-19 patients.
A distressed staff member from the USpace ward at St Vincent’s Private Hospital said health workers and patients were told on September 12th that they had until the end of the week to clear out in compliance with a “surge action response” public health order to make way for Covid-19 patients.
The staff member said mental health workers were being reassigned to other duties, and were distressed as their speciality was children’s mental health, and they feared for their patients.
A psychiatrist with the hospital and former USpace director, Associate Professor Elizabeth Scott, said she received notice late on Sunday 12th September that the ward would be claimed for Covid patients. She has had to break the news to a number of her patients and their families.
“It’s unplanned, it’s abrupt and it seems to me like a very crisis-driven plan rather than a well thought-out initiative,” Scott said.
“Last year when there was Covid surge planning, it was certainly on the cards that New South Wales Health would take over some of the facilities including USpace, but we had more notice then.
“But the situation is different this year. Over the last year we have seen a dramatic increase in youth mental health presentations to emergency departments, and these are people with a range of serious mental health disorders. State and federal governments have said that youth mental health is a priority, and that more support, services and funding is needed.”