Miriam Merton, who was admitted to Lismore Base Hospital in 2014 due to concerns over her mental health, died at the hospital in June, 2014. Her death is now the subject of a parliamentary review.
Miriam Merton, who was admitted to Lismore Base Hospital in 2014 due to concerns over her mental health, died at the hospital in June, 2014. Her death is now the subject of a parliamentary review.

Parliamentary inquiry into Lismore Base Hospital death

A PARLIAMENTARY inquiry and independent review following the "horrible" death of a woman at Lismore Base Hospital's mental health ward in 2014 has been welcomed by the Northern NSW Local Health District.

The State Government made the announcement this afternoon after the Coronial inquest into the death of Miriam Merten, who died of a brain injury after falling more than 20 times.

It follows a public outcry after the inquest heard the nurses supervising the mother-of-two allowed her to wander the halls of the ward naked and covered in faeces after being locked in a seclusion room for hours.

CEO Wayne Jones said the health district was open to a parliamentary inquiry and expressed his "absolute condolences and deepest sympathies to the family of Miriam Merten".

"We would work with any group who'd wish to review this further to ensure patients are safe," Mr Jones said.

"Let's be honest. It was a horrible, unfortunate event that should have never occurred."

State Minister for Health Brad Hazzard and Minister for Mental Health Tanya Davies have directed the state's chief psychiatrist Dr Murray Wright to lead a review of the policy and practice of seclusion, restraints and observations across the entire mental health system in New South Wales.

Mr Hazzard said the medical review, to be carried out by mental health experts, would analyse the "system from top to bottom, both practice and culture across the board".

"The circumstances surrounding Ms Merten's treatment and subsequent death in 2014 are shocking, and the lack of humanity in her care astounding," Mr Hazzard said in a statement.

 

He said the government would ask the current Legislative Council inquiry into the Management of Health Care Delivery in NSW to reopen its submissions to allow mental health care to be addressed.

Mr Jones said the health district "acted swiftly" to stand down and de-register the nurses involved in the appalling incident.

He outlined the hospital's tightened operations at the mental health unit by providing increased "psychiatrist coverage" and ensuring mental heath nurses were properly trained and well-versed in mental health polices to work in an acute observation area.

The changes were supplemented by those following investigations by the Health Care Complaints Commission, NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal and the Coronial inquest, Mr Jones said.

Ms Merten's daughter Corina Merten told The Daily Telegraph her mother was a "good person despite her illness" and she was never told the full story about how her mother died.

Corina said she wanted to tell her story so that more resources were provided to help care for mental health patients.

"She (Miriam) is not the first and definitely won't be the last mentally-ill person let down by the system," she said.