HEALTH CRISES: Shadow Minister for Mental Health Tania Mihailuk, was in Lismore on Tuesday calling for public hearing dates following the death a mental health patient in Lismore and met with Andrew Humphreys who's daughter Paige needs urgent treatment in the US.
HEALTH CRISES: Shadow Minister for Mental Health Tania Mihailuk, was in Lismore on Tuesday calling for public hearing dates following the death a mental health patient in Lismore and met with Andrew Humphreys who's daughter Paige needs urgent treatment in the US. Alison Paterson

Desperate dad of sick kid upstages media conference

WHEN the Shadow Minister for Mental Health Tania Mihailuk visited Lismore on Tuesday morning to demand the NSW Government set public hearing dates in the region following the death of mental health patient at Lismore Base Hospital, she was upstaged by a 10-year old.

Coraki father Andrew Humphreys said his daughter Paige caught an undiagnosed infection at Lismore Base Hospital and needed life-saving surgery, and claimed her terrible situation all came down to under-staffing in hospitals.

The pair stood quietly holding a gofundme placard while Ms Mihailuk was joined by Lismore mayor Isaac Smith as she called for an inquiry following the terrible CCTV footage released last month, which exposed the alleged mistreatment of Miriam Mertens inside Lismore's Tallowwood Adult Mental Health Unit in June 2014.

Ms Mihailuk said the Coronial Inquest found that Ms Mertens fell at least 25 times and was left locked and untreated in a seclusion room, with no access to food or water, prior to her death and further found health protocols were significantly breached with nurses failing to physically assess Ms Mertens's temperature, pulse, respiration and blood pressure when in isolation.

Ms Mihailuk said that more time was needed for members of the public to share their lived experience of NSW mental health units and that public hearings must be held in Lismore and across the North Coast region.

"Clearly the Lismore and North Coast community are reeling still from the flood disaster and you think the government would extend the enquiry dates," she said.

"Labor is calling on the NSW Government to set public hearing dates in Lismore and across the North Coast to enable the community, mentally ill patients, their families, carers, clinicians and stakeholders, an opportunity to share their lived experiences of mental health units across the North Coast."

Ms Mihailuk said there was a need for an immediate inquiry into the resourcing and capacity of mental health units across NSW, but said instead of a stand-alone inquiry, the NSW Government extended submissions into the Public Accounts Committee's Inquiry into the Management of Health Care Delivery in NSW.

"The community needs assurances that NSW's mental health facilities, including the Tallowwood unit in Lismore, are adequately resourced, accountable and have the capacity of treating mentally ill patients with a high standard of care," she said.

The Northern NSW Local Health District operates three acute inpatient mental health units and one sub-acute mental health unit, including Tallowwood and Kamala (Children's) in Lismore, Kurrajong in Tweed, and Tuckeroo in Byron.

Another issue of great concern, Ms Mihailuk said, was how local health districts is too look after the resourcing and capacity of mental health issues and how their staff are coping.

"Labor called for a full public inquiry into the resourcing and capacity of mental health units, but the Government instead extended written submissions - for one month - into an existing Public Accounts Committee inquiry into the management of health care delivery."

"We know our area is a mental health hotspot and there are serious concerns in our community which needs to be addressed, Cr Smith said.

After Ms Mihailuk finished addressing the media, she spoke with Mr Humphreys and said she would do all she could to help.

Written submissions for the mental health enquiry close on June 30, 2017.

Submissions can be made via pac@parliament.nsw.gov.au or visiting NSW Parliament.


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