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Mental health clinicians will assist paramedics

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By Juliano Oliveira

Patients suffering from a mental health crisis can now be assisted by clinician specialists who will be working along with paramedics on the Gold Coast ambulances from Friday to Monday.

The Queensland government estimates that 20% of adults experience a mental disorder each year, with 3.5% facing a severe mental disorder requiring a crisis response in the state of Queensland.

“This means people experiencing significant episodes of anxiety, depression, psychosis, suicidal ideation, or self-harm attempts call Triple-Zero as the first line to access help and care”, says Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services Steven Miles.

Queensland Ambulance Service Mental Health Co-responder pilot program had been functioning effectively in Brisbane since July 2019. “Since the pilot started in Brisbane, approximately 60% of people seen by the clinicians are staying in their own homes or are utilising existing resources”.

All the efforts employed into the program, intend to soften the patient’s condition and relieve the paramedics team so they can attend to other calls. “We know emergency departments aren’t always the best place for people in a mental health crisis. They can be noisy and busy with bright lights, so finding alternative care is often more appropriate depending on the individual. It also takes pressure off our busy emergency departments and leaves the emergency departments as a last resort.”

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Last year, Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service adopted a similar mental health co responder program alongside Queensland Police Service which has seen results of 68% of people experiencing a crisis impacting on their mental health being assessed and treated on scene and subsequently not requiring hospital emergency care.

QAS Commissioner Russell Bowles said the clinicians and paramedics will have access to a Mental Health Practitioner based at the Gold Coast University Hospital Coordination Hub.

“The practitioner provides support and assistance to Emergency Medical Dispatchers and paramedics to ensure patients receive timely and appropriate access to mental health resources,” Commissioner Bowles said.

“They’ll have access to Queensland Health Mental Health clinical databases which includes information on a person’s mental health history, treatment plans, Police and Ambulance Intervention Plans and other important information”.

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