The brother of a man who made an attempt to end his life at a prominent Wollongong hotel on the weekend believes the system failed him.
A police spokeswoman said the 50-year-old man went to Wollongong police station around 6.30pm on Friday afternoon, claiming he was being followed but was not threatening self harm or violence.
He therefore did not fall under the guidelines to be scheduled, detained or arrested.
The police spokeswoman said the man, who has a long history of mental health issues, was accompanied to Wollongong Hospital for a mental health assessment.
It is not clear if he presented to staff, with an Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District spokeswoman claiming the hospital had no record of the man's attendance that night.
Police went to the hotel and spoke with the man, who wished to remain in his room, and they left.
Yet at about 4.50am on Saturday morning, emergency services were called back to the hotel after the man attempted suicide.
With just one check, the hospital could have seen his mental health history. But they didn't do that. There has been a huge breach in the duty of care.
Due to national guidelines around the reporting of suicide, the Mercury will not detail the circumstances of the attempt.
However the man sustained critical injuries and was treated on scene by paramedics before being airlifted to St George Hospital, where he remains in a stable condition.
His brother said more should have been done to help the man, who has previously been an inpatient at Shellharbour mental health unit.
"How many red flags do there need to be for the police and hospital to do something?" the brother, who wished to remain anonymous, said. "The police, hospital and health service have let him down.
"There is nothing I can do about what happened.
"He is largely at fault, he made his choice but he is incapable of making rational decisions. He is not capable of taking care of himself.
"I want to bring scrutiny to the health system so future victims hopefully don't suffer.
"With just one check, the hospital could have seen his mental health history.
"But they didn't do that. There has been a huge breach in the duty of care."
A police spokeswoman said officers established a crime scene and inquiries were continuing into the incident.
The brother said he wanted the system and policies to change because it was "failing" patients as they were not getting the help they desperately needed.
"I don't have the solutions, I am not a health professional," he said. "But my brother was systematically let down.
"I want to flag that the system is not working."
The man, who is on a mental health disability pension, had been in and out of mental health units for the past 10 years.
The brother said he had not been formally diagnosed but had been unwell since childhood.
He said his brother had taken medication and seen a mental health professional in the past but was unsure if he was receiving treatment at the time of the attempt.
"I respect the rights of individuals but some people, like my brother, are incapable of looking after their own wellbeing," the brother said.
"My brother tells professionals what they want to hear, gets let out of mental health units, then has another episode. It goes round in circles and nothing changes.
"The police neglected to take appropriate action."
The Mercury has previously reported on short staffing at the district's mental health units including beds being shut recently at Shellharbour Hospital's acute Eloura unit and claims some mental health patients have had to be accommodated in surgical wards.
There's also been concerns about the closure of Shoalhaven Hospital's sub-acute mental health for two weeks over the festive period.
However, the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District spokeswoman said there were many services open over the holiday period if people needed support.
"All mental health acute inpatient units, emergency departments, rehabilitation, older persons, child and adolescent mental health wards will continue as usual over the holiday period," the spokeswoman said.
"Anyone requiring an inpatient mental health bed will be admitted."
She said if someone did go to the hospital emergency department voluntarily then they could leave at any time.
The spokeswoman said Shoalhaven Hospital's sub-acute unit did not take acute admissions directly from an emergency department but rather provided a 28-day voluntary functional living skills program.
The spokeswoman said the unit would close over the Christmas period as demand was not high. She said there was only one person last year who wanted to be a part of the program and they were accommodated at Shellharbour Hospital.
"The district has strategies in place to manage changes in demand over the holiday period," she said.
Additionally, the community mental health teams will provide care to current patients and will accept new referrals from emergency, inpatient units, general practice and the community.
Mental health patients are offered a follow up appointment with the Community Acute Care Teams within 48 hours after discharge to review their individual treatment plan and arrange additional support as required.
- The Mental Health Line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 1800 011 511.
- Lifeline: 13 11 14
- Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467
- Beyond Blue: 1300 22 463
- Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800
- Rape Crisis Line: 1800 424 017
- 1800 RESPECT: 1800 737 732
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