The mistreatment and death of Miriam Mertens at Lismore Base Hospital’s mental health unit lead to calls for a public inquiry into the resourcing and capacity of mental health units.
Labor’s shadow minister for mental health, Tania Mihailuk, is criticising the state governments approach to the inquiry claiming that ‘the NSW Government response has been to bury the community’s concerns into an existing Public Accounts Committee inquiry.’
Instead of commissioning a standalone inquiry with specific terms of reference relating to mental health, Mihailuk says the NSW Government buried the mental health inquiry within an existing inquiry into the management of health care delivery in NSW.
‘How are people with experience of our mental health system meant to make a submission to an Inquiry that fails in its terms of reference to even refer to mental health?’
There are nine days left for a written submissions and then public hearing dates will be set in locations throughout NSW.
Mihailuk has written to the Chair of the public accounts committee calling for an immediate extension of the short deadline.
Tamara Smith, MP for Ballina told The Echo:
‘If this Parliamentary Inquiry is to truly address the concerns of people within the Northern Rivers Region about the funding and resourcing of mental health services then I call on the government to extend the submissions period and to hold public hearings in our region.
‘I would also like to see that the findings or recommendations of the Review into the death of Miriam Mertens at Lismore Base Hospital by the State’s Chief Psychiatrist Dr Murray Wright be made public.
‘If systemic abuse of mental health patients is occurring, this needs to be brought to light and dealt with.’