Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Prison hospital lock-down: mental patients madness‏

“Prison authorities have ordered the removal of 28 officers from the prison hospital area as part of their ironically named “Way Forward”. This will lock patients into cells at 3.30pm instead of the current 9pm from April 2nd” said Justice Action Coordinator Brett Collins.

All sectors affected are in uproar as a consequence of this projected change before the new hospital opens on May 15. The nurses, prison officers and patients themselves agree that it will be detrimental to their recovery and cause a huge increase in self-harm and suicide. “It is yet another example of unthinking health management and must be reversed” said Mr Collins.

The nurses say that they cannot give hospital care under those conditions, and these very vulnerable patients with severe mental illnesses and medical/surgical patients will need to be transferred to general hospitals.

The patients have told the manager that they will be refusing medication from 4pm on 2/4 in support of the petition they have sent to Premier Iemma and Health Minister Meagher if the proposed lock-in times are adopted. They say “if they really want to drive us mad by this early routine, we will help them to go mad by refusing our anti-psychotic medication”.

For comments: Brett Collins 0438 705003, Michael Poynder 0401 371077


FROM: Patients/Inmates in Long Bay Prison Hospital (LBH -1)
TO: Justice Action
RE: Unlawful, Inhumane, Oppressive and Irresponsible Conduct and Decision of Commissioner Ron Woodham and Julie Babineau.
C.C. The ICAC, HCCC, N.S.W. OMBUDSMAN, PIAC, HREOC, AUSTRALIAN MEDIA, Ms Jillian Skinner, Ms Reba Meagher, Mr. John Hatzistergos, Mr. Morris Iemma and Mr. Kevin Rudd.

Dear Sirs and Madams;

We the undersigned Patients/Inmates in the Long Bay Prison Mental Hospital would like to desperately request your help and assistance over a very serious and important issue.

Please find the enclosed a copy the "Inmate Notice" {See enclosed Attachment 1} posted in LBH-1 on 15/03/08, by the General Manager, which explains the issue and the situation.

This new daily routine will be more Unlawful, Inhumane, Oppressive, Maddening and Un-therapeutic than it currently is.

This will be barbaric and severe violations of provisions of NSW Crimes (Administration of Sentences) Regulations, 2001 (including but not limited to sections 60(3A), 119(3), 120, 121, 153, 234, 243, 245, 246, 247, and 280(2) and NSW Mental Health Act 2007 (Including but not limited to sections 3, 29, 68, 69, 74, 84, 85, 86, and 105.) and sections 7, 8 and 9 of NSW ICAC Act and section 11 of HREOC Act of Australia and Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

We are Patients with Patients Rights, Inmates with Inmates Rights and Human Beings with Human Rights, and all these rights are being severely violated by Ron Woodham, Julie Babineau and their dysfunctional and oppressive organizations in the name of Care, Treatment and Control at the expense of NSW and Australian Taxpayers.

Please help to stop Ron Woodham and Julie Babineau.

We will be thankful and grateful for your help.

Yours sincerely,

Signed 41 patients.


Mental health a casualty in Long Bay hospital's lockdown

No wonder NSW Attorney-General John Hatzistergos doesn’t like the idea of a Victorian style charter of rights for his State. If he did it would mean that mentally ill prisoners would be able to challenge a draconian new regime being introduced in the State’s Long Bay jail hospital at Malabar.

The Long Bay Hospital holds around 120 patients. One ward is reserved for general medical cases while three wards are for mental illness cases. A new hospital, being built next door, is due to be opened later this year.

According to an Inmate Notice posted on March 15 by the General Manager of the Long Bay Hospital, from April 2 patients at the hospital will only be let out of their cells after 8.15 in the morning, have to head back to their cells for 30 minutes between 12 and 12.30pm and then be locked up again at 3.45pm. They will be forced to have their evening meal in their cell, and the only time their cell doors will open between 3.45pm and 8.15am the next morning will be to let medical staff give out pills and provide medical treatment.

Currently prisoners are allowed to remain out of their cells until 9pm in the evening.

In other words, from next month physically and mentally ill prisoners will only be allowed out of their cells for less than 7 hours a day! One does not have to have any great insight into mental health treatment to know that such a regime will be detrimental to a person’s sanity.

According to the Inmate Notice the changes are being made “to get you used to the new routine when we move to the new hospital.”

Brett Collins of the prisoner advocacy group Justice Action “nurses and prison officers say the new regime will be detrimental to patient’s recovery and cause a huge increase in self-harm and suicide.”

There can be little doubt that if a charter of human rights was on the NSW statute books the patients of Long Bay hospital would be able to successfully challenge this Guantanamo Bay style of punishment on the grounds that it is clearly a breach of the fundamental right of anyone deprived of their liberty to be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.

Since Mr Hatzistergos became Attorney-General in the Iemma government human rights in NSW have been on a downhill slide – at Long Bay Hospital they have reached a new low.

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