Panel established to review restraint used in NSW mental heath system


A five-member panel has been created to review the practices of restraint and seclusion used in the New South Wales mental health system.

The review is being conduced to find out whether current legislation, policy and practice standards in the system are line with national standards, international best practice and the expectations of patients and the community.

The independent panel, led by NSW chief psychiatrist Dr Murray Wright, includes Dr Kevin Huckshorn, CEO of behavioural health consulting business, Huckshorn and Associates; Karen Lenihan, NSW principal official visitor; Julie Mooney, executive director of Nursing and Midwifery for Southern NSW LHS; Dr Robyn Shields, deputy commissioner at the NSW Mental Health Commission; and Jackie Crowe, deputy commissioner of the Australian Mental Health Commission.

The members will visit NSW Hospitals, acute mental health units, mental health intensive care units and declared emergency departments and review past cases of seclusion and restrains. The public will also have the opportunity to make submissions and take part in face to face consultations.

“We need to know appropriate policies are in place in our hospitals and mental health facilities and the extent to which staff actually adhere to existing policies and protocol,” NSW health minister Brad Hazzard said.

“No stone will be left unturned, to ensure people living with mental illness in this state are receiving the best possible care and treatment in the least restrictive environment.”

Mental health minister Tanya Davies said the panel brings together views on ways to reduce restraint and seclusion and an understanding of the NSW mental health system.

“We are keeping an open mind on the best way forward until we receive expert advice on how improvements can be made in ways that do not jeopardise the quality of care or the safety of staff and other patients.

“It is critical that we ensure the mental health system treats patients with dignity, and respect and that their clinical needs are being met.”

The final report and recommendations are expected to be completed in early December.