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Mental Health Services Question Without Notice

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Cate Faehrmann
NSW Greens MP
18 June 2019

Ms CATE FAEHRMANN (16:18): My question is directed to the Minister for Mental Health, Regional Youth and Women, the Hon. Bronnie Taylor, representing the Minister for Health and Medical Research.

Given the recommendations of the review undertaken by Dr Murray Wright into the seclusion, restraint and observation of patients with a mental illness in NSW Health facilities, why has the Sutherland Hospital emergency department redevelopment resulted in waiting areas in triage that are significantly smaller than the previous emergency department, leaving patients who are experiencing mental health incidents with no appropriate place to wait in privacy or to be treated?

The Hon. BRONNIE TAYLOR (Minister for Mental Health, Regional Youth and Women) (16:19): I thank Ms Cate Faehrmann for her question about seclusion and restraint, and her reference to Dr Wright's review. The safety and wellbeing of patients and staff are paramount in providing good-quality care. NSW Health is committed to reducing, and where possible eliminating, the practice of seclusion and restraint in mental health services across New South Wales. A new target to reduce the use of seclusion in acute mental health units was established in 2018-2019 by the New South Wales Chief Psychiatrist, to which the member referred to, and a panel of five local and international mental health experts undertook a statewide review of seclusion, restraint and observation of consumers in NSW Health acute mental health units and declared emergency departments. It followed the release of footage in seclusion at Lismore Base Hospital showing events that were very concerning and very distressing.

The review was an important opportunity to analyse the use of restrictive practices, compare New South Wales with national and international standards, and hear from consumers, carers and other stakeholders. The review included findings supported by a weight of evidence, which is that the reduction of seclusion and restraint does not increase injuries. NSW Health has accepted all review recommendations and developed an implementation plan to prevent the use of seclusion and restraint. The implementation plan includes 27 high-level public actions and all actions will be completed by 2019. As at 28 February this year, nine of these actions had been completed. The public phase and implementation plan and accompanying seven fact sheets are available on the NSW Health website.

NSW Health will continue to work closely with districts and networks to monitor the implementation of all recommendations to ensure that there is full compliance. NSW Health will also continue to work closely with a range of partners in the mental health sector to ensure that the implementation plan is actioned in a safe and timely manner. Delivery of this plan requires the input of many partners across a number of different settings. These organisations include groups such as the Mental Health Commission of New South Wales, non-government organisations, peak bodies and health professionals. Recently I have been visiting quite a few mental health facilities looking at those things and I am proud to say that the rate of seclusion and restraint is decreasing. That is something we all need to aim for and look towards.

I commend all mental health workers in this space for the way they are looking at implementing best practice and for acknowledging the recommendations of the report and the different methods that may be used. I noticed that some of the old type of seclusion restraint rooms—which were plain, blank rooms—are now being used as quiet spaces, and staff are working more closely with patients to avoid incidents that would contribute to using seclusion and restraints. [Time expired.]

Ms CATE FAEHRMANN (16:22): I ask a supplementary question. Will the Minister please elucidate her answer in relation to which local health districts and specialty health networks have met the Government's deadline of September 2018 to co-design a culturally appropriate seclusion and restraint prevention action plan for their services?

The Hon. BRONNIE TAYLOR (Minister for Mental Health, Regional Youth and Women) (16:22): In my previous answer I said that as of 28 February 2019 nine of those actions had been taken. If the member requires further information about the specifics of the matter I will take the question on notice.

The Hon. PENNY SHARPE (16:22:0): I ask a second supplementary question. Will the Minister elucidate her answer in relation to why the design at Sutherland Hospital does not seem to be following the guidelines as previously set out?

The Hon. BRONNIE TAYLOR (Minister for Mental Health, Regional Youth and Women) (16:23): As I said previously, in regard to Sutherland Hospital I am not aware of why the designs are not specific to the recommendations—or indeed whether they are—so I will take the detail of the question on notice and get back to the Hon. Penny Sharpe.

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Cate Faehrmann
NSW Greens MP
18 June 2019
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