Mental health beds 'not needed'

A NORTHERN NSW Local Health District spokesman believes the Clarence Valley does not have the "critical mass" of population to support an overnight mental health facility, despite there being overnight facilities in Port Macquarie, Kempsey, Coffs Harbour and Lismore.

Area nurse manager mental health Warren Shaw said the smaller 12-bed facility in Port Macquarie and the voluntary 10-bed facility in Kempsey were logistical nightmares for the district because of staff rostering issues.

Mr Shaw said it was difficult to keep a strong casual work pool at such small facilities and by placing the minimum of two staff on duty, guidelines for staff-to-patient ratios were exceeded.

Lismore has a 40-bed mental health unit and Coffs Harbour has a 30-bed unit plus a rehabilitation unit.

He said a 20-25 bed unit was the ideal size for such an overnight regional mental health facility and the Clarence Valley did not have a need for such a large facility.

"The North Coast per head of population had the equivalent number of (mental health) beds as the rest of the state," Mr Shaw said.

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