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March 9, 2021

Call for independent inquiry into Byron hospital death

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NSW Labor has renewed its calls for an immediate independent inquiry into the resourcing and capacity of mental health units and services across NSW after the avoidable death of a patient in a NSW health facility on the North Coast.

Yesterday Echonetdaily revealed that a 50-year-old man with Down syndrome died at Byron Central Hospital from hypothermia after he wandered outside through an unlocked door at the hospital on July 28.

The matter is now the subject of a police investigation and it is likely to be the subject of a coronial inquiry.

But Shadow Health Minister Walt Secord has called for ‘a wide inquiry into the resourcing and capacity of our state’s mental health units – especially on the state’s North Coast’.

‘There is a major crisis in confidence in the community about the Berejiklian government’s ability to look after the most vulnerable,’ he said.

Shadow mental health minister Tania Mihailuk said the NSW mental health system was ‘lurching from crisis to crisis’.

‘There are serious questions to be asked and need to be answered by the Berejiklian government.

‘The information emerging from the latest matter is truly heart-breaking and our heart-felt sympathies go out to the family,’ she said.

However, Wayne Jones, chief executive of Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD) says that ‘there were no mental health patients in the hospital’s general inpatient unit at the time of this tragic incident.’

‘It is important to note that Mr Forrest had not ever been a patient of the sub-acute mental health unit at Byron Central Hospital,’ said Mr Jones.


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