Mentally ill patients in Victoria’s south west are likely to no longer have access to 24 hours crisis response service as a result of the Baillieu Government’s cuts to health spending, Member for Western Victoria, Jaala Pulford said today.

Ms Pulford, said that South West Healthcare is proposing to withdraw after hours on-call local mental health crisis emergency response services in Hamilton, Portland and Camperdown.

“People suffering an acute mental illness could miss out on accessing a crisis assessment by a local mental health clinician when they need it if these services are withdrawn,” Ms Pulford said.

“It is a farcical situation that unless people in Hamilton have a severe mental health crisis during business hours, they simply won’t get appropriate care.”

“Southwest Healthcare has blamed financial pressures for the possibility of cuts to the local out-of-hours emergency response service.”

“This has got nothing to do with whether the service is needed or not – it’s simply about funding cuts imposed by the Baillieu Government.”

Under the possible arrangement, residents living in Hamilton will only have access to community mental health services from 8.30am to 5.00pm during the week, where previously there was a dedicated case worker available 24 hours day, seven days a week.

“If this arrangement goes ahead, seriously mentally ill patients will need to be assessed by telephone, rather than having the benefit of a face-to-face assessment,” Ms Pulford said.

“This possibility of a cut in service will result in more pressure being placed on local ambulance paramedics and police, who may in some cases be required to transport patients from Hamilton to Warrnambool.”

“Local mental health clinicians suggested that any decision to cut services will lead to a downgrading of mental health services across South West Victoria.”

“Mental health services in Victoria’s South West are already under pressure – Victoria’s South West mental health service area is one of just three regions that operates without short stay prevention and recovery care beds.”

“Mr Baillieu should immediately provide South West Healthcare with the funding it needs to fix the problem he has created.

Media Contact:  Tim Miller – 0458 555 585