Work starts on Darwin’s new $16m private clinic

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Darwin Private Hospital's new $16 million mental health unit will provide a “much-needed service to the community” when it opens in late 2020, says General Manager Dr Jo Seiler.

Construction work has now begun on the 18-bed inpatient clinic and adjacent outpatient centre, following the turning of the first sod of earth at the site.

Due to open November 2020, it will be the first facility of its kind in the Northern Territory, and will have the capacity to treat more than 5,000 patients in its first three years. Until then, the closest private mental health, alcohol and other drugs (AOD) unit is in Cairns.

“Currently, patients have to travel long distances and interstate to access private mental health services,” Dr Seiler said. “We are committed to ensuring Darwin residents and the broader Northern Territory community have access to quality services, similar to those found in other states.”

The 104-bed hospital, with seven operating theatres providing a wide range of specialties, has been the only such private facility in the territory since opening 30 years ago. It has recently expanded its operations – becoming the first hospital in the region to produce chemotherapy for oncology patients – and has treated just over 15,000 patients in total this year.

Dr Seiler said she submitted an application for the mental health project to the hospital's owner Healthscope 18 months ago, and was given funding clearance early this year.

(L-R): Darwin Private Hospital's General Manager Dr Jo Seiler, Federal Member for Solomon Luke Gosling, Northern Territory Minister of Health Natasha Fyles and Healthscope's state manager David Harper turn the first sod at the new mental health unit site.

The new clinic has been designed for future expansion, with the inpatient unit caring for patients with alcohol and drug withdrawal, and those diagnosed with mental health conditions such as personality and mood disorders, trauma, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Next door will be a dedicated day rehabilitation space, offering group programs such as dialectical behaviour therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, building resilience, and PTSD.

“Mental health is a growing concern for all Australians, and Healthscope, through its national mental health strategy, is playing a leading role in the provision of the specialist services and coordinated care required,” said the group's chief medical officer, Dr Victoria Atkinson.

“We are so pleased to be able to coordinate with public and community mental health services in the Northern Territory, to provide high-quality mental health care for all territorians,” she added.

Read more: Small regulatory change could make a huge difference for Australians accessing mental health care.

Read more: Mental illness no longer the elephant in the room.

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