$24.4 million hub

THE McGowan government will spend $24.4 million expanding Fremantle’s mental health capacity by 20 beds.

Announced earlier this week, the new unit will include a 10-bed older adult neurological behavioural unit to explore a shared model of care between psychiatric and geriatric patients.

Along with a 20-bed secure mental health unit announced last year, it will turn Fremantle into a 104-bed mental health ‘hub’. As part of the funding, existing hospital buildings will be refurbished and redeveloped.

The unit is expected to open in 2023.

Mental Health minister Roger Cook said: “These additional 20 beds at Fremantle Hospital will ensure access to safe, high-quality mental health inpatient care and further assist in delivering timely care to our most vulnerable patients.”

The $24m funding is only for the capital costs of the expansion, and Mr Cook’s office says recurrent costs such as staffing will be determined closer to when it opens.

Fremantle MLA Simone McGurk said the beds meant locals with mental health issues could access care closer to their homes and loved ones.

“We know that there is huge demand for mental health services across the community,” Ms McGurk said.

“Ensuring that there are inpatient services available is an important way to better our mental health system.”

Ms McGurk has been heading up a working group with Fremantle council over the redevelopment of unused land at the hospital, and says expanding its mental health capability to a major regional hub was “not inconsistent” with the group’s ideas.

Ms McGurk said the redevelopment plans had been slow to progress as there was no “support dollars attached”, but it also needed to be tied to Fremantle council’s plans to redevelop Fremantle Oval.

Those plans may also need a major rejig, with Ms McGurk confirming the government was considering building its new Fremantle police station on the old Stan Reilly aged care site next door. The council currently controls the site – which is a car park until the redevelopment goes ahead – but it’s only via a vesting order from the state government which can take it back.

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