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Makes me wonder how well I'd go in court against a particularly egregious violation of my civil and human rights. About 7 months ago I had a mental breakdown and rather publicly announced it to quite a lot of people, to the point where I sparked an article in Vice Magazine. I was not in my right mind, having suffered over 18 months of intense stress and two operations (onevrelativeky minor, the other rather more major and painful). I consequently drive aimlessly for at least 9 hours in distress, before I slowly came to my senses and started to realise the enormity of what I had just done.

After several more hours I came home. The police had been there and filed a missing person's report about me, I decided that I knew what was coming next and didn't like my prospects for freedom even though I hadn't broken any laws. So anyway, I arrived home at about 5:30am, where I was greeted by my wife who immediately put me to bed and made sure I got some rest and care (my wife is amazing!), and whilst I didn't get any sleep my young son - who mercifully had no idea what just transpired - for some reason woke up and gave me a huge hug which I have to say is one of the most wonderful things you can get after being so upset.

Several hours later the police knocked on my front door, my wife answered and they demanded to be let in - which my wife allowed. Three large and burley policemen entered into my bedroom and I was forced to sit up, and there I groggily argued that I was fine, any thoughts of suicide had passed and that all I needed was sleep, as by this time I had been awake for close to 16 hours. My wife agreed. They somewhat sheepish shaky shuffled around trying to work out what to do, eventually electing to call the NSW Ambulance Service, who arrived and proceeded to aggressively grill me, speak over the top of me and in general ignore the wishes and explanations of both myself and my wife. The room was at this stage very crowded, as there were three police officers, two ambulance service ladies, my wife standing in her pyjamas by the side of the bed and myself, still lying in bed and hoping they would all go away so I could fall asleep.

Through the my dulled cognitive abilities I heard them tell me they would be forced to take me to Liverpool hospital involuntarily. This would entail the police officers bodily hauling me out of bed and literally carry me to the awaiting ambulance in front of all my neighbours. There I would, they warned, be placed into an assessment area whilst a determination was made as to what to do with me.

I didn't like the sound of that, not least because I had actually already read the legislation around this area - the NSW Mental Health Act 2007 - and in fact knew they were well within their rights to do so. I also knew that if I didn't go in a vokuntary capacity that they could hold me for up to 12 hours before deciding whether I should be stuck in a psychiatric facility surrounded by people suffering from delusions, mania, violent tendencies, and generally people who would not necessarily make my mental state any better. So I elected to go with them voluntarily, but in their insistence I went with them in their ambulance (For this I was sent a $600 bill).

When I arrived, they shoved forms in my face, which I signed without really knowing what I was in fact signing. I'm knew it would be dangerous to question this, because he hat would be considered not being "compliant" and likely cause them to make me an involuntary patient. I was eventually brought over to a bed in the ED ward, where a guard sat down next to me.

Through the mists of fatigue it slowly occurred to me that it was rather unusual that a guard should be placed with someone who was a voluntary patient, as a voluntary patient is actually free to leave at any time whereas an involuntary patient is detained until assessed and determined not to be held any further - or as is more likely, they are locked in the psychiatric wing where you can be legally drugged if you say the wrong thing, complain about your treatment and conditions or generally do anything the staff don't like. So knowing this, I asked what was going on and was advised I had been "sectioned". I didn't need to ask for clarification - to my horror it was clear that I had been placed as an involuntary patient under Section 20 of the Mental Health Act, which allows an ambulance officer to have you detained at an authorised mental health facility to be processed by a psychiatrist who determines your level of sanity and has the power to place you in psychiatric care for up to three months.

I, of course, had been told I was to be entering the facility as a voluntary patient - and it had never occurred to me that anyone would knowingly lie about something like this in front of witnesses! So I demanded to see someone about this.

This was a big mistake. Whilst I was arguing quietly and insisting that either a mistake had been made or I had been deceived into coming, a decision was made and I was summarily ordered to get up and follow them, whereupon I was moved into an isolation room commonly used for patients undergoing drug withdrawal or having psychotic breaks. I protested and asked why they were incarcerating me: I got no response. And there I stayed for the next five and a half hours. I was seen by one doctor who checked my vitals, but the next time I was seen was by the psychiatrist who determines whether you should be there in the first place.

I was fortunate that they alllwed me to keep my phone as I immediately called one if my best and most loyal friends, who arrived in the hospital not 25 minutes or so after I was incarcerated. He demanded to be allowed to stay with me in the room, and they allowed this. He stayed for the entire 5 hours.

As I was saying, I was seen by the psychiatrist on duty after 4.5 hours of quietly rotting in this locked and brightly lit, open to everyone, observation room, with only my friend for company and no chance of sleep. Somehow I kept my sanity and quietly explained the situation to the psychiatrist, who after consulting with my wife (who I add I called, not the hospital) and my friend realised that it would be best for me to be released into the care of my family. Precisely the thing my family, friends and yes, myself had been saying for approximately 6 hours.

I have now been battling the health system for 7 months. I have now been lied to, both verbally and in writing, have been given wrong information on the policies of the hospital, have pointed out these inaccuracies and the implications (they broke the law!) and been ignored, and have been dismissed by the HCCC who gave told me that they can do nothing because although they agree that perhaps the law has been broken, it's not considered serious enough to investigate further.

The interesting thing is: I persevered and eventually found the mistake that made them suddenly sit up and take notice. You see, in one of the most two letters from the General Manager of the hospital, someone drafted a response to a number of my specific questions and had him sign off on it. This person was clearly feeling very clever, and decided to put an end to my annoyingly insistence that I had been traumatised and mistreated by the ED. In their letter thry told me that if I wanted mybrecirds I was free to apply for them if I paid $40 in cash, in person at the hospital.

So I did.

After the statutory 21 maximum 21 days for processing I still had not received the documentation so I waited till day 30 and then asked for an internal review as to the reasons for the delay. Thus is mandated in law, and consequently two days later I received my paperwork.

There I discovered why neither my pyschologist, psychiatrist or doctor had received anything about my stay in hospital. They had completely neglected to fill in a discharge summary and so far as it hey knew, I was still in the ED ward. They had also not filled in the necessary paperwork mandated by hospital policy for all patients placed in seclusion. Furthermore, in the very same letter that advised me to apply for my records, I was told that patients sectioned under the Act are routinely placed in the seclusion room "as a low stimulus environment" and for their privacy. Whilst I was speaking to the information officers about my lack of paperwork I finally located the policy on the use of restraint and seclusion and was surprised to read that in fact, seclusion was specifically NOT to be used as a low stimulus environment for patience as it violated section 68 of the Act and was categorically proven to almost always cause the one being placed I isomation a great deal of trauma and impacted on their dignity and self-respect.

Suddenly the people who had been treating me as an inconvenience, troublemaker and yet another unstable mentally ill person with possible ideas of grandeur became very attentive, courteous and nervous.

It is far too little, too late. Every single one of them is now running scared, because now they have had no choice to send to the Director of Clinical Governance and already she has been speaking to me for hours, and she has confirmed that everyone of my complaints is legitimate and very serious. There is currently a number of investigations being done at Director level and there are almost certainly a bunch of very nervous and worried staff members who must have never in their wildest dreams believed that someone brought in as an involuntary patient under the Mental Health Act 2007 could possibly have the determination and intestinal fortitude to smash through a system designed to place road blocks in the way of complaints at every opportunity.




Could you make a different topic for this? It's extremely long and seems only tangentially related to fighting red light tickets.


Which bit is off-topic? And I think if you believe that the story linked to is only about traffic tickets, then I rather think you have missed the larger point the author was making.


Thanks for telling your story, very interesting. "The system" can sometimes become very scary once the people meant to protect us get involved.

It's interesting to me that it is easy to find clearly mentally ill homeless people walking around free, and most neighbourhoods have well-known ones that must be being wilfully ignored by police, etc, but an otherwise normal (and obviously intelligent) member of society just stating that he is having a mental breakdown and then going missing (which every adult is legally allowed to do), could cause such a chain of events.

I hope you get satisfaction. It's such an important thing to deprive someone of their liberty that it should never be taken lightly and routinely, as appears to have happened in your case. All the 't's should have been crossed and the 'i's dotted.


If you are not satisfied with their actions, then typically the only remedy is to go to court, or at least mention the possibility in passing (unless you're in the mafia / government already). As for how well you'd do in court, you'd have to ask a lawyer to find out.


Unfortunately I think you may be right. But before I get to court, I'm going to see what their upper management do. But I felt striking similarities in this issue as with the story presented here in that people who should know better literally do not understand the law, or the responsibilities and principles they must uphold.

My concern with mentioning legal action in passing is that they may decide to stop all investigations whilst lawyers find ways of minimising their liability. They have already made huge errors of law and fact because they were so confident I was a vexation complainant who wasn't any threat to them in any way.

They don't think that way any more, but my goal is to ensure not that the system changes, more that they follow the law and framework they have spent a very long time formulating, educating staff on and enforcing compliance of!


I have nothing to say besides I'm so sorry for what you went through. You have my empathy.




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