Northern NSW Local Health District ceo, Wayne Jones.
Northern NSW Local Health District ceo, Wayne Jones. Contributed

Seclusion used as 'last resort' says health district CEO

HEALTH authorities confirmed they plan to continue the use of seclusion, a controversial mental health practice, at Lismore Base Hospital when redevelopment is completed next month.

Northern NSW Local Health District CEO Wayne Jones said "there is great deal of scrutiny" and strong policies around the long-standing practice across all NSW hospitals.

Mr Jones said seclusion was used as "a last resort" when there is great risk to the patient and others.

"We will continue to implement those policies to make sure people who do require seclusion the absolute last resort are offered compassion, dignity and safety," Mr Jones said.

He said the hospital's new mental health unit would feature "functional and less sterile" infrastructure to better care for patients.

These include remodelling the nurses station to better monitor the high dependency and observation area as well as patient access to private phones for phone calls.

The announcement comes as the State Government prepares to undertake a parliamentary inquiry into mental policy and practice of seclusion, restraints and observations across the state's mental health system.

The review and inquiry were triggered last Friday by an inquest into the death of North Coast woman, Miriam Merten at the hospital in 2014.

Mr Jones said the LHD is looking forward to participating in the upcoming inquiry and emphasised the Coroner's report into Ms Merten's death revealed it "wasn't a system failure, it was a human failure from the two nurses who were derelict in their duty of care."