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Brayley to lead overhaul of state’s mental health services

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Former Public Advocate John Brayley has been tasked with an overhaul of South Australia’s mental health services, returning to the state as SA’s new Chief Psychiatrist, InDaily can reveal.

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Lyell McEwin Hospital mental health scandal

Health Minster Stephen Wade announced the appointment in a message to all SA Health staff today, as the department faces questions over the death of three patients after they left a mental health unit in Adelaide’s north.

Brayley steps in as Chief Psychiatrist eight months after the resignation of Dr Aaron Groves – author of the harrowing report that forced the Weatherill Government to close the Oakden Older Person’s Mental Health Service.

Brayley will be responsible for implementing a “new clinical plan” for state-funded mental health services across South Australia, as well as the recommendations of Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Bruce Lander’s maladministration investigation into Oakden.

He is to lead the execution of the SA Mental Health Strategic Plan 2017-2020, which advocates recalibrating services towards early intervention and prevention of mental illness.

Brayley served as the South Australian Public Advocate from 2008 to 2015, when he was appointed Chief Medical Officer and Surgeon General of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

He has also held the office of Chief Adviser in Psychiatry to the Minister of Mental Health – a precursor role to the contempory Chief Psychiatrist – and was former Director of Mental Health in SA.

On Tuesday, InDaily exclusively revealed three people had died by apparent suicide after leaving the Lyell McEwin Hospital’s short stay unit, and at least two mental health patients were put at higher risk after being discharged from the facility without proper process.

Safety documents from the unit also show at least two patents’ attempts to take their own life had been facilitated by the physical design of the unit, which SA Health decided to close over safety concerns a year or more later.

SA Health has refused to say how long after being discharged from the unit the patients died, saying the cases are before the coroner.

A coroner’s inquest in 2016 found it was “completely unacceptable” that two mental health patients were not seen by a psychiatric medical officer before being discharged from the Lyell McEwin Hospital in 2012.

Jeremy Williams, 24, and Robert Campbell, 53, died by suicide within days of release from the hospital.

A separate inquest in 2016 found that 43-year-old Geoffrey Noakes, who took his own life less than two hours after being discharged from the hospital in February 2013, should not have been allowed to leave.

Deputy State Coroner Anthony Schapel found his death might have been prevented if Noakes had been held at the hospital under an inpatient treatment order, rather than released.

 

Yesterday, the doctors’ union and the Greens called on the Government to undertake a wholesale review of resourcing for mental health services in order to prevent more patients suffering inadequate care, such as that which was offered at the short stay unit and Oakden.

Both services were administered by the Northern Adelaide Local Health Network – which Lander found had engaged in maladministration in the case of Oakden – and were accredited by external agencies when SA Health moved to close each facility down.

Unlike in the case of Oakden, there is no evidence staff at the short stay unit abused patients or attempted to cover up the nature of that facility.

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