On 2 October ANMF received a change proposal in regard to the transit lounge at the Royal Hobart Hospital being redeveloped into a mental health observation unit (MHOU) to accommodate mental health patients in five beds and three chairs (revised to five beds only), who were deemed low clinical risk and had an expected length of stay of 48 hours or less. Within the same change proposal, the planned opening date had already been set for 30 October.

On 9 October ANMF attended face to face meetings with Tasmanian Health Service Management and the Mental Health Services Management where members overwhelmingly raised significant concerns with the proposal. Key concerns were that the MHOU was not the most appropriate use of the space to aid in patient flow or provide quality care to mental health clients; the lack of appropriate model of care; concern with safely staffing the unit; concerns with work health and safety and the risk that the MHOU would either not have a good occupancy rate due to the lack of patients meeting the admissions guidelines, or would be used inappropriately at times of bed block placing members and patients are risk.

ANMF lodged a submission in reply to the change proposal and correspondence received by ANMF upon receipt of these submissions indicated that the Mental Health Services were considering the feedback and ‘would incorporate any changes to the unit ‘on the basis of feedback received.

However, on 23 November ANMF was informed that following the consultation period there would be no opportunity to consider whether the MHOU was the most appropriate and meaningful use of the space at the RHH and the unit opening date was planned for Monday 4 December.  Some of the concerns raised by unions were discussed and THS and MHS management advised mitigating strategies had been put in place, however, there was still an ongoing concern, particularly in regard to staffing and quality patient care provision.

ANMF were advised at the consultation meeting that there would be an opportunity for all stakeholders to inspect the MHOU once renovations were complete and ANMF have also requested that a work health and safety inspection is conducted once building work is complete as well as the opportunity to review the projected rosters.

ANMF have since been advised that the opening date had been delayed until 11 December and ANMF will keep members informed as further information becomes available.