‘Meth nurses’ to help Peel Health Campus tackle drug epidemic

The state government has announced a $2.28 million program to put nurses with specialist training in dealing with drug-affected patients into hospitals across Western Australia, including the Peel Health Campus.

Mental health minister Andrea Mitchell announced the the program on Sunday at the launch of a $500,000 expanded media campaign aimed at reducing methamphetamine use and directing people to a new Meth Helpline.

“The specialist nurses will provide screening, assessment and intervention, as well as support to other hospital staff responding to complex meth-related cases,” she said.

“They will also support meth users and their families to connect with treatment options and will train other medical staff, to build long-term capacity in the workforce to respond to patients with drug and alcohol problems."

But health minister John Day said only six extra full-term nurses would be employed as part of the program.

“This important initiative will help ease the pressure on our very busy hospital ED staff and reduce stress in emergency departments,” he said.

The campaign promoting the 1800 874 878 Meth Helpline:

Shadow health minister Roger Cook welcomed the announcement.

“I think it's important that we equip our emergency departments to ensure they're meeting the modern day demands associated with mental health, drug induced psychosis and patients coming to teh EDs with a drug-related illnesses,” he said.

“It doesn't sound much and it isn't much, but it is something so we can't look at these measures and say we're not interested in having them on board, but what we need is a much more comprehensive approach.”

The government also announced an expansion of its Meth Helpline media campaign after more than 1200 callers sought help for meth-related harm in the first 10 weeks of operation.

The helpline (1800 874 878) is free, confidential and anonymous and provides professional counselling, ongoing advice, referrals and information, and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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