A “BREAKTHROUGH” mental health initiative announced yesterday will help save lives in Armidale and the surrounding region, Northern Tablelands MP Richard Torbay said.
The $1.6 million trial will increase ambulance officer numbers in Tamworth by six, and provide for more positions in the Armidale hospital’s emergency department, to better assist people with mental health problems to receive appropriate care in a timely manner.
The Armidale hospital will soon be upgraded to a “declared mental health facility” – mirroring Tamworth hospital – and will receive more than $500,000 for more staff to help cope with the extra workload.
The initiative means the two cities will have the only such facilities in a large part of the state.
The state government will also spend $1.1 million to establish a rural mental health emergency ambulance transport project for the region’s patients, relieving police officers of the responsibility and freeing them up to focus on law-and-order matters.
Mr Torbay said the trial would allow for ambulance officers to provide immediate clinical care to those with mental health problems who needed it the most.
He said it would be the first time Armidale would have a declared mental health facility, which would open it up to more appropriate forms of treatment for mental health patients.
“It’s going to make a huge difference. We’ve been fighting for many years to see a dedicated area for Armidale,” Mr Torbay said.
“It also provides the additional situation where the (Armidale hospital’s) accident and emergency (department), being a dedicated facility, will be able to non-voluntarily accept someone.
“In other words, sometimes people are in such a state that they require a non-voluntary admission. We’ve been unable to do that, prior to this facility being a declared one.”