Nun continues to press NSW Govt on mental health patient neglect

A Sydney nun forced to drive a pyschotic and aggressive sister to hospital yesterday accused the State Government of manipulating the truth after the incident became public.

The AFP news agency reports that Sr Pauline Richards OLSH, director of nursing at St Joseph's Aged Care Facility at Kensington, drove a 78-year-old mentally-ill sister to hospital after she was denied help from both ambulance and police services. The incident occurred earlier this year.

When the allegations first surfaced in early April, NSW Premier Bob Carr said ambulance officers arrived at the nursing home to find the patient had been moved. But Sr Richards yesterday said she only took the ill nun to hospital after being told that an ambulance required a police escort.

Unable to secure police help, she drove the patient there herself, strapping her into a nursing home bus.

"I felt that we were blamed for not letting the (NSW Ambulance Service) know that we had already taken the patient," she said. "The fact was I had been told in the morning that if there was no police escort there would be no ambulance escort so I didn't expect an ambulance.

"I just think that is a terrible manipulation of the truth."

Sr Richards called on the Government to apologise for the situation and asked it to explain how it expected people caring for the mentally ill to transport them unaided to hospital in a crisis.

Mr Carr told Parliament yesterday he had already apologised for any inconvenience caused and read from a transcript of his address in April.

"NSW Ambulance Service ... advises that this was a case where the ambulance and police services should have worked better together to ensure a smooth transfer," he said. "I regret ... any inconvenience caused to the sisters at St Joseph's for any undue distress."

Nun slams government over ambulances (news.com.au/Courier-Mail 5/5/05)

Ambulance Service of NSW

Nun incident highlights mental health care system neglect (CathNews 6/4/05)

6 May 2005