Health Minister does about face on the closure of Graylands Hospital

Despite a decade of advice from mental health experts recommending the closure of the Graylands Hospital, the McGowan Government this morning announced it would spend $218.9 million to expand the hospital.

Shadow Health Minister and WA Liberal Leader Libby Mettam said today’s announcement was more desperation from a Government that had sat on its hands when it came to mental health reform and now realised it needed to be seen to be doing something.

“It’s very difficult to understand this sudden decision to pump more money into what was described in the WA Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drug Services Plan 2015-2025 as an institution based on the ‘Victorian era asylum model’,” Ms Mettam said.

“The McGowan Government’s own 2017 Sustainable Health Review identified Graylands Hospital as one of the last remaining psychiatric hospitals in Australia and said that decommissioning it presented an opportunity to provide enhanced access and support new models of care.

“While we’re happy to see a commitment to increased bed capacity, we also need to see an expansion in community-base care, which all experts agree is an indispensable component of any modern patient-focused mental health service.

Ms Mettam said that until the Government made a commitment to invest in preventative and community-based care people would continue to present and re-present at emergency departments.

“Many other states have either achieved that balance between community care and hospital-based care or are trending that way, while Western Australia is heading in the opposite direction,” she said.

“In the 2019 State Budget, the McGowan Government committed $3 million to fund comprehensive planning to decommission the hospital and reconfigure the state’s mental health system.

“Again, this Government spent money planning for what was recommended and then at the last minute made an executive decision to do the opposite.

“The Minister for Health can now add reform of the mental health sector to her too-hard basket.”