Tribunal chief is ‘off the mark’

It is impossible to say how many people are improperly detained under
changes to the operation of the Mental Health Act 2007.

The president of the Mental Health Review Tribunal, Greg
James, QC, cannot say with certainty that ”not one patient has had
their discharge delayed by the new system”. This is because the initial
review of a mental health patient now can occur up to one month after
admission. Until June, a review occurred within one week.

Changes to the operation of the act mean people can now
be detained against their will and discharged after three weeks, without
external scrutiny. Nobody is able to identify how many people have been
wrongly detained in this way.

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre, other consumer
groups and 149 NSW psychiatrists want to return to the situation where
people detained under the act have their case independently reviewed
within one week. Doing so is consistent with the act’s stipulation that a
patient be reviewed ”as soon as practicable” after admission.

Peter Dodd (pictured), Health Policy & Advocacy

Public Interest Advocacy Centre

Letters to the Editor, Sydney Morning Herald

11 December 2010

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