Parliament: Questions Kelly's Asked

Flinders Medical Centre and Mental Health

The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: I seek leave to make an explanation before asking questions of the minister representing the Minister for Health regarding the Flinders Medical Centre, including the eating disorders unit.

Leave granted.

The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: I have been contacted by a constituent regarding the treatment of their family in late June of this year at the Flinders Medical Centre (FMC). This person was forcibly removed from their home by the ambulance service due to ongoing anorexia and detained under the Mental Health Act. The ambulance was to take her to the eating disorders unit at FMC. However, on arrival at FMC, they discovered that the six-bed eating disorders unit was at capacity, so my constituent was then placed in critical care and later admitted to a general ward with two elderly men and one elderly woman.

While in critical care, my constituent was in a bed close to the exit door used by staff to take breaks, I am told, meaning that there was constant freezing air coming in and out of the room. There were also pigeons coming in and out of the same door. Once on the general ward, the bathroom became blocked when one of the other patients had diarrhoea. My constituent complained to nursing staff and was told to clean the toilet herself.

One of the elderly men on the constituent’s ward spotted a mouse and was told by the on-duty staff, I am told, that rats and mice are commonplace in the ward. My constituent’s family member also noticed that the floors were dirty in this ward. While an inpatient at the FMC, my constituent, who had been detained and forced to go to hospital against her will because of her anorexia, lost two kilograms. On one occasion, I am told, staff forgot to provide her with food, and it was thanks to a diligent nurse that she received some food.

My constituent is now in trauma counselling after her experience at FMC and is having to manage her trauma caused by this hospital stay in addition to being very unwell due to her medical condition. It appears there is no suitable treatment plan for people with eating disorders in this state. My questions to the minister are:

  1. What are SA Health hygiene standards for major teaching hospitals, and has the Flinders Medical Centre recently been reaccredited to those standards?
  2. Does the minister deem it acceptable for vermin and birds to enter clinical spaces at the Flinders Medical Centre?
  3. If someone is being forcibly detained under the Mental Health Act due to their health status and there is no bed available in the eating disorders unit, why would they not be admitted to the mental health unit of FMC, or transferred to their local hospital mental health unit?
  4. How often is the eating disorders unit at FMC at capacity, and is there a waiting list for this unit?
  5. What strategy does the minister and SA Health have for supporting and treating South Australians with an eating disorder or a weight disorder, and why are there only six beds for treating weight and eating disorders in this state at the FMC?

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Climate Change): I thank the honourable member for her very important question. Of course, the list of allegations made to her by her constituent are very concerning indeed in relation to a patient’s stay at the FMC, so I undertake to take that question and her explanatory information to the minister in the other place and seek a response on her behalf.