Mental Health Care in Private Hospitals
This page provides information for carers about mental health services in private hospitals in NSW.
A number of private hospitals in NSW provide mental health inpatient and out-patient services. Some are specialist mental health hospitals, others provide a range of medical and surgical care and may have only one or two mental health wards.
How do Private Hospitals Work?
Private Hospitals charge a fee for providing care. This fee is usually paid by the person’s private health insurance fund, but the fund may require payment of an excess for care in a private hospital. It is important that you as the carer understand what is covered by the private health insurance fund and any additional costs. Some public hospitals have an agreement with a private hospital to provide care to public patients and will pay the fee for their care.
You can ask the private hospital what length of care, and what types of care, are covered by the person’s private health insurance.
The private health insurance fund may limit the number of days they will pay for care in a hospital. They may also, after the person has been admitted for a certain period, reduce the amount they pay per day.
If the person is ﬁrst admitted to the public hospital as a ‘private patient’, and later transferred to a private hospital, the private health insurance fund may start counting the number of days for which they will pay at the start of the admission to the public hospital.
Principles of Care
The Mental Health Act 2007 NSW lists thirteen principles of care(1) that must be followed by private hospitals providing care to people with a mental illness or mental disorder.
Based on these principles(2) private hospitals must keep carers informed about care and treatment.
How are Carers Involved?
On admission to a private hospital a person will be asked, as part of the admission process, to nominate their ‘next of kin’ and/or a ‘person for contact’.
How you, as a carer, are recorded in the records of the private hospital determines the extent that they will share information with you.
Mental health patients in private hospitals have the right to nominate up to two ‘designated carers’(3). However, the designated carer nominated by the person may not be the same person as is listed by the hospital as the ‘next of kin’ or the ‘person for contact’. The person may be asked by the private hospital to indicate the extent to which the hospital can provide information to the ‘designated carer’.
Ask the treating team in the private hospital:
- If you have been nominated as the persons designated carer
- If you have been listed as a ‘person for contact’
- How much information the person has indicated the hospital can provide to you
The hospital should contact you if you are nominated as the designated carer and there are major changes in the persons condition if key events occur. Key events include admission to a public hospital if the person leaves the private hospital against medical advice.
The treating team has the power under the Mental Health Act to nominate a ‘principal care provider’ in those circumstances where the person declines to nominate a ‘designated carer’.
You can ask the Treating team if they have identiﬁed you as the ‘principal care provider’.
For information on ‘Carer Rights’, visit our website here.
What if I am Excluded?
You can ask to talk to the doctors or nurses at the private hospital to make sure they are aware of your relationship with the person. You can ask that this relationship is recorded in the person’s medical record.
A person receiving mental health care has the right to exclude others from being given information. This can be a difﬁcult situation for you as a carer.
Being excluded does not prevent you from passing information to the treating team. It does, however, limit the information the team can pass back to you.
For information on ‘Information for carers’, visit our website here.
Regulation of private hospitals
Private hospitals that treat people for a mental illness must be licenced by the Secretary of the Ministry of Health and must comply with the Mental Health4 Act 2007 (NSW). The Secretary has the power to cancel the licence. To qualify for the licence the private hospital must appoint a medical superintendent who must keep proper records and supply information to the Secretary of the Ministry of Health5.
(1) Section 68 of the Mental Health Act 2007 (NSW)
(2) Section 68 (j) of the Mental Health Act 2007 (NSW)
(3) Section 71 of the Mental Health Health Act 2007 (NSW)
(4) Section 127 of the Mental Health Act 2007 NSW
(5) Section 124 of the Mental Health Act 2007 (NSW)