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An independent review of WA’s public mental health system has found an alarming lack of staff and services to accommodate a surge in patients, many of whom are suicidal.

The report by respected retired neurosurgeon Bryant Stokes makes several scathing findings, including fragmented services, a lack of cohesive planning by health officials and under-resourced staff under increasing pressure to try to help distraught patients.

Professor Stokes said it was clear many families and carers blamed a failing system for the suicide of some patients.

His review, which started last December, included almost 900 interviews as well as information about 290 people who had taken their lives.

Professor Stokes said the mental health workforce was simply inadequate to meet the mental health needs of WA.

As part nine major recommendations he said the Health Department needed to urgently develop a plan to improve services in hospitals and out in the community.

“Our staffing levels are approximately just over 50 per cent less than what they should be for a start,” he told a press conference.

Mental Health Minister Helen Morton and director general of health Kim Snowball said they accepted the recommendations unreservedly and were already introducing some of the reforms.

Mrs Morton accepted she might need to seek extra funding from Treasury to implement the changes.