‘It’s a joke’: Exiting mental health chief maintains rage over SA Health failures

State Mental Health Leader John Mendoza – Leaving his office yesterday instead of following SA Health’s orders to shut down after an incendiary InDaily Interview – Continues to uncover a series of failures and budget cuts in the state’s mental health system.

So Obviously InDaily yesterdayProfessor John Mendoza has resigned from his three-year role as Mental Health Secretary-General of the Central Adelaide Regional Health Network, releasing authorities for a lack of commitment to reform due to serious concerns within the system.

“I’m not wasting time in the sense of pretending to be part of some reform effort when I’m not there,” he said. InDaily..

“I think this was the time when it was called. I think it’s time for the department and CEO and ministers to have some accountability.”

This morning he said InDaily After talking yesterday, he was told to stay quiet – or leave the building soon.

“I was basically given two options: cease and desist-legal for closure-or I could leave and become a free agent to comment,” he said. It was.

“I chose the latter because the problem is so serious that if you simply silence after saying what you did yesterday, the first result will be further demoralization of the staff.

“Unfortunately nothing has changed. The government simply continued to announce these photo opportunity types (policy failures), not serious reforms, and the workforce was poorly staffed, terribly depressed. Will continue to enter the critical phase of the staff.

“I chose’Well, I’m not going to continue, I’m going to talk more about problems and challenges.'”

He said the directive was given by CALHN CEO Lesley Dwyer, but she was just a messenger.

“It was my CEO Leslie Dwyer who had to give the directive, but Leslie was given that choice by the government,” he said.

“It would have come from the office of Lynne Cowan, CEO of SA Health, and the Minister.”

SA Health CEO Chris McGowan is on vacation.

“Leslie has treated my dismissal professionally and absolutely professionally,” he said.

“She needed to convey a message and she managed the process with me compassionately and professionally.”

After his early resignation, Mendoza was scheduled to officially end on May 14.

In an extraordinary interview with InDaily Yesterday, Mendoza said that the decision to quit one year on a three-year contract was partly due to family reasons. If done here (at CALHN) and can solve these systematic problems that South Australia has had for decades, I would stick to it. However, there is little prospect.

“The department cannot make the basic decisions that enable the system to work effectively.”

From February 2019 to February 2021, he said mental health presentations to the Royal Adelaide Hospital increased by nearly 40%, but “no additional resources” from the state government.

This morning he said InDaily He was forced to cut $ 5.2 million from his $ 140 million mental health budget this fiscal year.

“When activity spikes, we have to cut 3 percent off our budget,” he said.

Mendoza said CALHN’s mental health services have experienced the busiest eight months to date in the last nine months, primarily as a result of the catastrophic effects of the COVID pandemic, officials warned. Said he ignored the prediction.

“All teams have always worked hard to manage the increasing case load,” he said.

“The (mental health) triage (telephone) line is at its limit. We don’t have the money to do it anymore.

“COVID forced them to move from the SA Ambulance Service Building, which has access to high-quality communication systems.

“We don’t have the equipment for them to operate. SAAS needed space for COVID. There was no alternative presented to me.

“Service was provided in a training room with wires running everywhere with a makeshift triage call center. This is an emergency access point for care. It’s still temporary. [facility]What was the Glenside staff lounge? “

According to Mendoza, one-third of the triage call center positions were vacant.

“The staff are actually working on a homemade communication system, so I don’t want to work there,” he said.

“That’s a joke. This is mental health as a priority.”

“If mental health is a priority, why is it a triage service?”

According to Mendoza, all mental health leaders in the local health network said there was a shortage of team staff.

He said his team at CALHN lacked 90 staff, while the Southern Adelaide Local Health Network lacked 40 nurses.

“We’re talking about nurses, social workers, psychologists, clinical psychologists, the whole range,” he said.

This is absurd. The government will undertake on the one hand and announce on the other.

“I continue to be asked to find people who want a voluntary separation package when they can’t fill their positions because the department isn’t in too much contact with real reality.”

He said the government has been producing detailed analytical reports since 2018 requiring a more specialized psychiatric intensive care unit.

“These patients, by definition, need the most intensive care, and we are in a very limited space where they can’t go for a walk, can’t use the phone, and have security guards they can. They’re damaging them by keeping them, “don’t talk to anyone, they’re basically lonely,” he said.

“We will do our best in very difficult situations.”

He accused Dr. John Braley, the chief psychiatrist, and the government of ignoring the report.

“The department isn’t doing anything about it,” he said.

Braley rejected this in an interview with ABC Radio this morning, admitting that “I think the system needs significant improvements and changes.”

“Regarding that additional COVID response and the funding and additional programs it took,” Braley claimed.

“Additional capacity was introduced before February. Up to 20 additional beds were available, as well as other programs such as home hospitals and shared ambulances. [so] It happened in terms of increasing demand and additional response to the system, “he said.

He also said there was an ongoing “redesign of community mental health services led by the community health network.”

Braley disagreed with Mendoza’s claim that the sector’s response to the crisis was incompetent and “lazy,” but agreed to share concerns about potential human rights abuses from the use of restraints.

“Yes, I was particularly concerned about restrictive practices. This is related to the delay in the emergency department. [but] There was a response, “he said.

“There is a plan that is partially implemented, which will change the service and continue to improve, and there is much more to come with it.”

Mendoza said suicides are on the rise and three people have committed suicide in the last week after being discharged from Royal Adelaide Hospital and Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

“We lost three patients a week, which is a serious problem for our staff,” he said.

Mendoza said he was unable to send a message to Health Minister Stephen Wade. Stephen Wade said he was protected by the “Praetorian Guard” of officials and staff.

Mendoza said he would make a detailed plan for Wade about the urgent actions that could be taken to reform the system.

“There is something the government has to do now to deal with the mental health crisis and the pandemic,” he said.

If you do nothing, you will lose your life. Life has already been lost.

“We need to learn the auxiliary workforce very quickly, which is an auxiliary service for working with professionals.

“We need to improve our GP and other relevant healthcare professionals in the community. We can do this urgently. Invest in a proven program is needed.”

“We can do this today.

“We can implement them in the next few weeks. It won’t take months. This is a kind of assertive agile response that we need to see in a pandemic, but it completely failed.

“It looks like we’re in the wildfire season-well, guess some-you’re getting ready for the wildfire season.”

“We are virtually doing nothing but what I call a fair leaf loss activity.

“We have set up a mental health COVID hotline in SA, and have had hundreds of calls all the time … there is a core service entry point, mental health triage, but desperate for IT system functionality, staffing, and numbers. The percentage of people working there to deal with a 20-40% increase in call numbers. They get nothing.

“This is a sideshow alley. This is not the main game. This is not the main arena.

“It’s the professional mental health services left behind that push the clinician to the limit. Some are broken.”

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