'Inadequate response to tragic death': Opposition

IN TOWN: Mental Health Minister Tanya Davies with Lismore MP Thomas George after a tour of the Lismore Base Hospital Mental Health Unit.
IN TOWN: Mental Health Minister Tanya Davies with Lismore MP Thomas George after a tour of the Lismore Base Hospital Mental Health Unit. Claudia Jambor

THE final public hearing in the Inquiry into the Management of Health Care Delivery in NSW will take place this morning.

An extension to the inquiry came about after the death of Lismore mother Miriam Merten, who died from a brain injury the day after CCTV footage showed her wandering the Lismore adult mental health unit naked and covered in faeces. She fell at least 25 times.

The inquiry will today hear from Mental Health Commission of NSW boss Catherine Lourey and expert consultant Dr Timothy Smyth.

They will be followed by two representatives from the NSW Council of Social Service, the chief executive and chairman of One Door Mental Health, psychiatrists and consultants from Justice Action, and two individual submissions.

The public hearing is due to wrap up by 1pm.

It follows a two-hour public forum in Lismore last week, where the mental health unit was described as "a prison-like, alienating environment with a 'punitive atmosphere'.”

A separate independent review into seclusion, restraint and observation in the New South Wales mental health facilities was also launched in conjunction with the extension of the parliamentary inquiry.

But Shadow Health Minister Tania Mihailu said the process was an "inadequate response to the tragic death of Miriam Merten”.

"Labor has called for an urgent and dedicated inquiry into the resourcing and capacity of Mental Health Units. Instead, the Government has delivered token time during a separate inquiry,” she said.

"This is a piecemeal response from a government that is failing to give due priority to mental health in our state.

"The community deserves better than a single morning's work.

"We need and deserve to know whether NSW Mental Health Facilities are adequately resourced, accountable, and have the capacity to deliver a high standard of care to patients with mental illness.

"Labor repeats its call for a dedicated inquiry to give those who depend on and work in our mental health system a proper forum to tell their stories.”

Topics:  health inquiry lismore base hospital mental health miriam merten northern rivers health

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