ACUTE mental health patients in the Central West were put in seclusion or physically restrained more than 48 times during a three-month period, new data reveals.
In Western NSW, Bathurst and Dubbo hospitals have a specialised acute mental health unit, while Orange has a mental health intensive care unit to treat patients with a higher level of clinical severity and complexity.
Bureau of Health Information (BHI) data from April to June shows that of the 295 acute mental health episodes of care in Orange, 48 patients were subject to seclusion (22) or physical restraint (26).
This is higher than the same quarter in 2018 when 33 occurred, which included 15 patients put in seclusion and 18 restrained.
In Dubbo less than five of these events occurred during the three-month period, which was on par with last year, while in Bathurst none were recorded in either quarter.
Patients in Orange and Dubbo spent far less time in seclusion than the NSW average of five hours and seven minutes. NSW Health's target for seclusion is less than four hours.
In Orange the average seclusion event lasted for one hour and 19 minutes, while in Dubbo it was much lower at 30 minutes.
Patients were also physically restrained for less time in Orange (four minutes) and Dubbo (three minutes) compared to the NSW average of five minutes.
The BHI report also revealed there were 458 acute mental health episodes of care across the three hospitals during the quarter, including: 295 in Orange, 91 in Dubbo and 72 in Bathurst.
This is the first time the BHI's Healthcare Quarterly report has included instances of seclusion and restraint for the 46 public hospitals across the state with one or more specialised mental health inpatient units.
Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) chief executive Scott McLachlan said they were committed to reducing and, where possible, eliminating seclusion and restraint events for patients.
Director of mental health, drug and alcohol services, Helen McFarlane, said no seclusion or restraint events for adult acute, involuntary drug and alcohol treatment, ECU, Macquarie, Turon, Manara or Amaroo were recorded during the quarter.
"In the past, these units would have had seclusion events, but the work we have undertaken has seen us deliver significant improvements," she said.
"After introducing therapeutic programs, sensory modulation, peer worker engagement and acknowledgement of the importance of trauma informed care and recovery orientated programs, we now have three units that are looking to decommission their seclusion rooms and redesign them into therapeutic spaces".
Ms McFarlane said the WNSWLHD had reduced the use of seclusion and restraints so much, that all it could take was one person to have more than one seclusion, for the data to spike above the state KPI.
She said there had been an increase in the number of presentations from intellectual disability clients, with behaviour disorders which cannot be managed within the community.
The 2019-20 budget for WNSWLHD was nearly $979 million, an increase of almost $35 million on the 2018-19 budget.
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