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The closure of mental health beds has plunged the emergency department at Flinders Medical Centre (FMC) into chaos, the nurses union says.

Flinders has been at near capacity today as it struggles to cope with a build up in the emergency department.

The Nursing Federation says about a dozen mental health patients were without a bed this morning, and claims at least two of them have been forced to stay in the emergency department for four days.

It blames the extra pressure on the number of mental health beds at the nearby Margaret Tobin Centre being reduced from 38 to 34 last week.

On Friday the union tried to ban mental health admissions at the emergency department, but was later ordered by the industrial commission to halt the action.

The Federation says the situation has been putting staff and patients at risk, and fears things will get worse unless the Government re-instates the mental health beds immediately.

"There is such a degree of overcrowding within the emergency department which could in fact be alleviated," said Elizabeth Dabars from the Nursing Federation.

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