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ACEM calls for new approach in mental health

ACEM calls for new approach in managing people with mental health presentations in NZ EDs

The peak body for emergency medicine in New Zealand and Australia has proposed solutions to improve models of care for patients with acute mental and behavioural conditions.

The call for action comes as a snapshot survey found mental health presentations are disproportionately experiencing access block compared with presentations for other conditions.

A snapshot of the patients present in seven New Zealand emergency departments in December 2017 found that, despite only 3.7% being identified as mental health presentations, they comprised 25% of patients experiencing access block.

Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM) New Zealand Faculty Chair Dr John Bonning says access block – defined as waiting in an emergency department for a hospital bed for more than eight hours – has been shown repeatedly to result in poorer health outcomes.

“On its own, access block a disturbing phenomenon, and illustrates a problem with the whole hospital system,” Dr Bonning said.

“So when some of the most vulnerable people in our communities – patients with acute mental and behavioural conditions – become caught up in access block, it is time for action.

“Increasing mental health presentations to emergency departments means it is incumbent on all stakeholders – District Health Boards, hospital employers and executives, and the government – to address this issue and develop new policies to support shorter stays in the emergency department.”

Read the full media release and download the survey:


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