Three in five Canberrans left waiting for mental health care


Three in five Canberrans turning up at Canberra hospitals for mental health care are not getting the treatment they need on time.

The latest Report on Government Services also reveals Canberra is the worst performing state or territory in the country for meeting clinically recommended wait times for psychiatric care.

Only 41.9 per cent of people seeking psychiatric care at Canberra’s emergency departments were seen on time in 2019-20. This is way below the national average of 68 per cent.

Shadow Health Minister Leanne Castley said the Productivity Commission figures also reveal a big drop in the timeliness of mental health treatment in the ACT, with almost 58 per cent of patients seen on time three years ago earlier.

“It is a huge concern that three in five Canberrans turning up at Canberra hospitals for mental health treatment are not being seen on time,” Ms Castley said.

“In 2016-17, almost 60 per cent of mental health patients were being treated on time but now the figure has dropped to 41.9 per cent which is appalling.

“The ACT has been the worst performing state for the past three years which shows the Labor-Greens government has done little to improve care for mental health patients.

“We know the pandemic has had a big impact on people’s mental health and it is appalling that we are going backwards in the care we provide.

“We would expect more Canberrans to be needing mental health treatment which will put even more strain on a system already failing to cope,” Ms Castley concluded.