Key messages

  • Funding for hospital emergency departments will assist management of alcohol and other drug-related presentations.
  • This investment will allow emergency departments to improve their response to alcohol and other drug-related presentations.
  • Mental Health and Police Response is a joint police and mental health response to people needing urgent mental health assessment and treatment in the community.

Alcohol and other drug emergency department initiative

Emergency department funding will assist in managing presentations related to alcohol and other drugs.

Funding of $12.5 million over four years and ongoing was announced in the 2012-13 Budget to support better management of alcohol and other drug-related emergency department (ED) presentations. This funding was allocated through the Sustaining Hospital Performance growth stream in response to identified growth in alcohol and other drug presentations to EDs.

Direct funding has been allocated already to 21 EDs that experience high levels of alcohol and other drug-related presentations. This investment will allow EDs to improve their response to alcohol and other drug-related presentations, including risky behaviours and co-morbid mental health concerns.

This initiative also includes a continuous improvement framework so that EDs can share information on best practice in managing alcohol and other drug presentations and to promote and support a consistent approach to managing alcohol and other drug-related admissions across all EDs.

First-year allocation represented part-year impact ($30,000 per ED) to be used as set-up costs. Full-year impact funding allocation of approximately $125,000 per annum per site commenced from the 2013-14 financial year; it will continue until 2016-17.

Hospital-based withdrawal services

Withdrawing from alcohol or other drugs can cause acute symptoms that range from mild to severe. Symptoms vary depending on the type of drug used, length of dependence, the individual’s physical and psychological wellbeing and the method of withdrawal chosen.

If severe medical or mental health issues co-occur with the client’s alcohol or other drug use, or if complex medical withdrawal is anticipated, hospital inpatient withdrawal may be required. Hospital-based withdrawal is generally considered appropriate for those with a confirmed or suspected history of delirium tremens, seizures, severe medical or psychiatric co-morbidities or a high suicide risk.

In a hospital-based withdrawal setting, a client will receive medical support and supervision 24 hours a day, seven days a week, along with intensive psychiatric support, as required.

Mental Health and Police Response

Mental Health and Police (MHaP) Response, launched in May 2014, involves a joint police and mental health response to people needing urgent mental health assessment and treatment in the community. Adult clinical mental health services work in partnership with Victoria Police to provide timely, appropriate urgent mental health assessment, treatment and support, including referrals to further community support where required.

MHaP Response currently operates in 12 area mental health catchments across the state.