Ahlia Raftery’s death in a Hunter mental health intensive care ward leads to change

THE NSW government is expected to announce a$300,000 grant on Saturday to fund a trial of suicide prevention technology in the Hunter after the death ofteenager Ahlia Raftery at a Hunter mental health intensive care ward in 2015.

Mental Health Minister Tanya Davies is expected to announce the grant and a trial after the Black Dog Institute applied for a NSW government health reform innovation scheme grant.

The Hunter is expected to bethe first region to trial thenew version of wireless pulse oximetry units that are less intrusive for patients and became available in 2016.

Ms Raftery’s father Michael said the introduction of back-to-base pulse oximetry units would“definitely see lives saved in ” and he was pleased one of the major recommendations from an inquest into his daughter’s death had been accepted by the government.

Ms Raftery,18, died at theMater Mental Health Centre psychiatric intensive care unit at Waratah on March 19, 2015,after a “particularly busy” evening, when there were nine patients in the eight bed ward for a time.

It was clearthat demands placed on staffshortly before Ms Raftery died in her room, “prevented effective observation of Ahlia” to ensure her safety, Deputy State Coroner DerekLee found.

The inquest considereda succession of failures linked to demands on staff that led to patient safety being “compromised” in the period before Ms Raftery’s death. Mr Lee recommended the NSW government fund a trial of back-to-base pulse oximetry units that allow for continuous monitoring of a person’s oxygen level. If the oxygen level falls below a certain level or the monitor isremoved, an alarm alerts nursing staff.

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