Mental health deal struck

MENTAL health patients will be admitted to Lismore Base Hospital instead of Richmond Clinic when the clinic is full, under a deal struck between nurses and health service management yesterday.

The deal ends work bans brought in by Richmond Clinic staff early this week, but means the Base Hospital's emergency department will have to cater for extra patients until space in other facilities can be found for them.

Nurses' Union secretary Helen O'Donnell said other changes would include:

nA review of the mental health crisis line, which has been under fire since it was moved to a Newcastle call centre late last year.

n24-hour security at the clinic, effective immediately.

nMore experienced nursing staff rostered after hours and on weekends.

nImproved workplace health and safety and on-site training.

Ms O'Donnell and a spokeswoman for the North Coast Area Health Service (NCAS) both described the meeting as constructive, saying it had resolved all issues.

One key resolution was the decision to admit patients through the Base Hospital emergency department when the clinic was full, giving the Base Hospital the job of caring for them until an alternative facility could be found.

The other result was the decision to review the mental health crisis line and include mental health staff on the review panel.

The NCAS spokeswoman said the service had always planned to review the crisis line in June.

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