Prisoner 'shackled to bed for more than 85 hours' at Royal Adelaide Hospital

Prisoner 'shackled to bed for more than 85 hours' at Royal Adelaide Hospital

Prisoner 'shackled to bed for more than 85 hours' at Royal Adelaide Hospital

Updated 10 February 2018, 7:00 AEDT

A prisoner is left handcuffed and shackled to a bed at an Adelaide hospital for more than 85 hours, the ABC is told, with a nurse voicing concern to authorities about the man's treatment.

A prisoner was handcuffed and shackled to a bed at the Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) for more than 85 hours because of a lack of secure mental health beds, the ABC has been told.

South Australia's principal community visitor Maurice Corcoran said a nurse contacted him this week to say an inmate had been shackled in the emergency department for days, waiting for a bed to become available in a secure unit of James Nash House.

"[Corrections] were aware of the situation and they had escalated his placement as a matter of urgency to the chief operating officer of the Central Adelaide Local Health Network and to the clinical director of James Nash House, hoping to get a placement as soon as possible in a secure unit," he said.

"It is a long time to be handcuffed and shackled. It's disturbing, not only for the individual concerned and the staff, but also for the other people around."

He said the man was finally transferred at lunchtime on Friday.

Mr Corcoran said it was a disturbing situation which resulted from a shortage of secure mental health beds in South Australia.

"There certainly needs to be a much more humane response than handcuffed and shackling people for days on end," he said.

Last year, the ombudsman found a woman prisoner had been shackled excessively while in an Adelaide hospital and deserved an apology from corrections authorities.

In an earlier instance, ombudsman Wayne Lines also determined corrections staff had refused to take up an offer from nurses to use soft restraints on a male inmate in hospital.

In 2015, the State Government indicated it expected completion of the new Royal Adelaide, which opened in late 2017, would ease shackling concerns because of better mental health facilities at the new hospital.

Mr Corcoran said he understood one of the two mental health wards at the new RAH was being upgraded to meet the security requirements of the Corrections Department.

"There is remedial work at the moment going on to try and endeavour to make that unit a secure unit so that the Department of Corrections are satisfied that people do not need to be secured through handcuffs and shackles," he said.

Soft shackles long urged by ombudsman

In his annual report last year, SA's ombudsman Mr Lines said he had investigated many complaints about shackled prisoners, and he again called for soft shackles to be used, having pointed out he first recommended that protocol back in 2012.

"My understanding is that the soft shackles have not been implemented yet. We were hoping that might be the case," Mr Corcoran said.

He said he was aware of better situations in other states.

"I'm aware that in other jurisdictions, such as Victoria, within the prison systems they have specific units for people who have become unwell and are in need of psychiatric care," he said.

"There certainly needs to be a much more humane response than handcuffed and shackling people for days on end."

Corrections authorities have been contacted for a comment.