Mental Health

28 Nov 2005 questionsarchive

I seek leave to make an explanation before asking the Minister for Mental Health and Substance Abuse a question about her replies to questions in relation to mental health.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I would like to seek clarification in relation to three questions I have asked of the minister. The first is in relation to a question I asked on 8 November regarding the incident at Glenside with Mr Ben Harvey. In her reply, in part, the minister said:

I have asked for a review of security procedures at Glenside, which prevent drug and alcohol use. Clearly, I will have to bring back advice at another time.

I then asked a supplementary question in relation to whether drug and alcohol use is permitted within Glenside. On the second occasion, on 22 November, I asked a question in relation to the case of Jarrod of Mount Barker. His care worker had stated on Stateline that ‘hospitals will not treat people with mental health problems if they have been taking illicit drugs’. The third occasion was on 24 November when Dr Paul Lehmann stated that at a meeting with Jonathon Brayley, where it was intended to be just he and the acting director of mental health, a ministerial adviser from the health minister’s office had attended. I sought clarification as to whether it was now the practice for this government to invite ministerial advisers to attend meetings between health bureaucrats. My question are:

1. In relation to Ben Harvey, has the minister sought a review of procedures at Glenside? Does she have a report which she can provide to us? Has drug and alcohol use been permitted in Glenside and, if so, is that still the case?

2. Will the minister undertake to provide an answer to this place in relation to Glenn Wells’ statement on television a couple of weeks ago that ‘hospitals will not treat people with mental health problems if they have been taking illicit drugs’?

3. Will the minister clarify whether it is a new practice of this government that politically appointed advisers attend meetings of bureaucrats?

The Hon. CARMEL ZOLLO (Minister for Mental Health and Substance Abuse): I think the last question might be easier to deal with first. It was my understanding that Dr Paul Lehmann wrote to virtually every state member of parliament in South Australia. The issues were raised with the Hon. Lea Stevens (as minister for health at the time). I do not see anything untoward in ministerial staff being at that meeting. If the honourable member does, so be it. Honestly, I do not see anything untoward in relation to that.

In relation to the patient at Glenside, obviously, this person’s name has been mentioned, but in future I would like us all to observe that we should not be using people’s names.

I am not having a go at the honourable member because I think his name may have been raised in the other place;

obviously, his name is out there. I would not like to use people’s names.We all know the very unique challenges that mental health issues do raise. I think possibly we add further heartache to the families of people whose names are mentioned in parliament.

I cannot go into specific details about individual cases because of confidentiality reasons, but I advise the honourable member that the patient was not in a secure ward.

Therefore, this is not a matter of escape in relation to this gentleman. I have asked the Director for Mental Health to investigate in order to ensure all procedures were appropriately followed. I understand that the investigation is continuing and should be completed shortly. I thought I had responded already—at the time it was a supplementary question from the Hon. Rob Lucas—that we have a protocol in relation to drug and alcohol use at Glenside. Cannabis, illicit drugs and alcohol are not allowed into the Glenside campus. The campus has numerous exit and entry points, and they may be used by patients and members of the public. It is a health facility. The entry points have signs indicating that drug use is not tolerated and monitoring strategies are in force.

Security personnel monitor activity on the grounds for signs of suspicious activity; patients are informed that the consumption of any non-prescribed substances is not allowed;

and patients may leave the grounds on approved leave. If the staff believe that a person is intoxicated by any substance, that person is required to undergo a breath analysis. I am advised that any prohibited items are confiscated and reported to senior staff and police where appropriate. As we all know, police can be called to the Glenside campus by senior staff (for example, the duty nurse manager) in respect of any matter which, within the community, would require police involvement. I think that covers the honourable member’s inquiry in relation to that gentleman. In relation to the Mount Barker incident, I think it was the carer who raised the issue that we do not have dual—

The Hon. J.M.A. Lensink interjecting:

The Hon. CARMEL ZOLLO: Right. I said at the time on the program that we have provided funding for dual diagnosis staff to be made available to our mental health services. It is my intention that those staff be made available at various levels. I think this incident occurred last June, and it is now my understanding that the patient involved has been stabilised. I am also advised that a root cause analysis of the circumstances of his case is being conducted through the Department of Health. A root cause analysis is an investigation which focuses on lessons that can be learned from a situation. Indeed, I said to Dr Lehmann that, if anybody has any concerns in relation to the way patients are handled, they should always bring them to the attention of my office, because if something goes wrong we need to fix it and we need to learn from it.

As I said, since that time the government has made the announcement about dual diagnosis staff, and I announced an injection of $1.9 million over four years for CAMHS workers in regional areas, and I amadvised that Mount Barker would be a recipient of that. As I said, we need to learn from these incidents, and I encourage everybody to bring such incidents to the attention of my office.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I ask a supplementary question. Is it then the case that, if one of the dual diagnosis workers is not in a hospital and somebody presents with a problem arising from illicit drug use, they will not be treated in hospital, or is what the care worker said incorrect?

The Hon. CARMEL ZOLLO: As I said to the honourable member, this incident happened last June, and it is my advice now that some assistance would be given. DASSA and mental health are working more closely and collaboratively together, virtually every day, and protocols have been set up to deal with diagnosis by nurses. So, I hope that situation is not repeated.