Many asylum seekers have attempted suicide, and some have to be admitted to the psychiatric ward.
Doctors say up to five asylum seekers are brought to the Royal Darwin Hospital every day, and the association has accused the Federal Government of ignoring the fact that the hospital cannot cope with the numbers.
AMA Territory president Paul Bauert says staff at the hospital, who already have to deal with the highest rates of illness in Australia, are overloaded and frustrated.
“The patients are sent back to exactly the same conditions that have caused their high level of psychiatric illness,” he said.
He says keeping asylum seekers in community detention would reduce their stress levels and the number of injuries.
“We’re still having major issues with getting interpreters, getting accurate documentation from the detention centres about the patients’ previous history,” he said.
The Immigration Department says asylum seekers are getting “appropriate” medical care, but Dr Bauert says immigration health services are not helping.
“One of the ways that’s used in an effort to decrease the amount of presentations to the health staff at the detention centres is the use of anti-depressants,” he said.
“One gets the feeling that both Minister [Chris] Bowen and the Health Minister, Plibersek, really don’t understand the health conditions of the Northern Territory population and certainly have no understanding of the amount of psychological stress that they are putting on these unfortunate people in detention.”
He says long-term drug use is putting the detainees at further risk.