Gago Must Stop 'Cocktail Hour' For Glenside Patients

01 Jun 2006 archivemedia

Serious concerns have been raised by the State Opposition about mental health patients gaining unsupervised access to alcohol or drugs while in the care of the mental health system.

Shadow Mental Health Minister Michelle Lensink said the practice was symptomatic of the Rann Government’s soft attitude to drugs and the impact this has had within the mental health system.

“When patients in care at the direction of the courts or Minister are allowed to entertain themselves with drugs or alcohol it is a sign of lax patient care prompted by an equally lax government,’ Ms Lensink said.

“The latest example is that of Danny B who was charged with the murder of his de facto in March 1996. While Mr B was found to be unfit to stand trial for psychiatric reasons he was ordered to be committed for life within the mental health system.

“Mr B has been granted unescorted leave privileges from Glenside to enable him to have contact with his mother but on the condition that he not consume alcohol or illicit drugs.

“On return from a leave visit last November Mr B told Glenside staff that he had been to a hotel but had only consumed mineral water.

“However, a blood alcohol reading demonstrated that his level was 0.078, some 5 hours after the incident.

“Both the former and the current Ministers for Mental Health have not responded to questions about Glenside’s protocols in relation to patients’ access to alcohol and illicit drugs or whether such protocols have been reviewed in light of the number and seriousness of issues raised.

“Furthermore, Minister Gago has inexplicably expressed the view that she does not support random drug testing of Glenside patients such as Mr B! (Hansard May 3 2006)

“The public has a right to expect the state’s Mental Health Minister to ensure mental health patients receive appropriate care and treatment. The public most definitely has a right to expect the Minister will also ensure the safety of the wider community in cases involving patients detained at Glenside because of their violent history.

“In the case of Mr B, committed to Glenside for life through a violent act, Minister Gago seems to think that cocktail hour at the local pub constitutes appropriate care and treatment.”