John says his daughter’s treatment has been compromised because there is not a full-time psychologist on staff. Picture: Sam Ruttyn
John says his daughter’s treatment has been compromised because there is not a full-time psychologist on staff. Picture: Sam Ruttyn

Kids left stranded by health bureaucrats

WORRIED and angry parents have slammed bureaucrats for running a youth mental health unit without a full-time psychologist.

The 20-bed Birunji Youth Mental Heath Unit at Campbelltown has not employed a full-time psychologist for more than two years, despite the unit's advertising material claiming to have one.

In May the state government said it had employed two clinical psychologists to fill the equivalent of one full-time position.

John says his daughter’s treatment has been compromised because there is not a full-time psychologist on staff. Picture: Sam Ruttyn
John says his daughter’s treatment has been compromised because there is not a full-time psychologist on staff. Picture: Sam Ruttyn

Seven months on, however, the specialist unit for 12 to 25-year-olds admitted it only has a psychologist for three days a week.

Campbelltown father of four John's 17-year-old daughter has been in and out of the facility multiple times this year.

John, who asked for his surname and his daughter's identity not to be published, said his daughter's borderline personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, severe anxiety, depression and possibly bipolar symptoms have been made worse by this gap in services.

John, a father and firefighter from Campbelltown, is concerned about the lack of mental health care for his teenage daughter.
John, a father and firefighter from Campbelltown, is concerned about the lack of mental health care for his teenage daughter.

"I understand that they have trouble getting people to work at Campbelltown but that's no excuse," the 53-year-old firefighter said.

"They are not trying hard enough to get someone in. Birunji is better than it was but those small resources are spread thin over 19 patients."

John said his daughter has self-harmed at least a dozen times since May.

Inpatients have access to a psychiatrist and nursing staff 24/7, with additional support from social workers, occupational therapists and diversional therapists.

Campbelltown Hospital also serves Camden - the country's fastest-growing council.

Camden added 8 per cent (7013 people) in 2017-18 and will continue to grow at a faster rate than the rest of Sydney.

Oran Park is in Camden council area, which is Sydney’s fastest growing region. Picture: Sam Ruttyn
Oran Park is in Camden council area, which is Sydney’s fastest growing region. Picture: Sam Ruttyn

"This government has failed miserably in its duty of care regarding those young, vulnerable patients who rely on Campbelltown Hospital's Birunji Mental Health Unit," Campbelltown Labor MP Greg Warren said.

"They have no excuses and it is nothing short of gross malpractice and mismanagement by the government to have this issue remain unaddressed.

"How many young lives must be lost, put at risk or unnecessarily damaged before the minister and his government treat this issue with the seriousness it deserves?"

Campbelltown Labor MP Greg Warren (right) with Labor health spokesman Ryan Park.
Campbelltown Labor MP Greg Warren (right) with Labor health spokesman Ryan Park.

A spokeswoman for South Western Sydney Local Health District said "a suitable candidate has been successfully recruited and will join the team for the remaining two days a week once recruitment checks are completed".

"Mental health services will be significantly expanded as part of the $632 million stage two redevelopment of Campbelltown Hospital," she said.

"The NSW Government said they are investing more than $34.2 million on mental health services in the Campbelltown area in the 2019-20 financial year."

 

If you are affected by the themes discussed in this story, there is help available.


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