Sunday, February 15, 2009


Red News Readers,

Outrage at the death of this young woman is justified. It is a pity that that outrage cannot be harnessed into action. There has been a crying need for beds for eating disorders for many years but the pleas of those in these mental health services have gone unnoticed and unlistened to by the health bureaucracy. People with eating disorders and those who work with them have very few advocates and not much power. Spending priorites are elsewhere.

Jenny Haines

Caroline Marcus, smh


THE family of a young woman who lost her eight-year battle with anorexia last week has accused the NSW health system of gross incompetence, saying she could have been saved.

Catena Di Mauro died at Royal Prince Alfred hospital on February 7. She was 20.

Her father, Frank, has demanded an investigation into her treatment and death.

"I told them [the hospital]: 'You are murderers. I will not rest until you come to justice."'

The family's claims against the hospital include that Catena — whose story featured on the front page of The Sun-Herald in January 2007 — was denied visits from them; could wait four days to have her feeding tubes reinserted after she had removed them; was given access to her own toilet where she could purge meals; tried to hang herself while under observation; and was subjected to a rape attempt by a fellow patient.

Yesterday Health Minister JohnDella Bosca vowed to have the family's claimsinvestigated.

A spokesman said the minister would help the family complain to the Health Care Complaints Commission and would request information from the area health service.

Mr Di Mauro said his daughter had been successfully treated at Newcastle's John Hunter Hospital, where she had gained 10kilograms in five months in 2006. But in July that year he was told the eating disorder unit would be closed because of a lack of funding and she would be transferred to the psychiatric ward at RPA. There, she shared a room with men suffering schizophrenia and drug addiction, and her condition quickly deteriorated.

She weighed just 28 kilograms when she turned 18.

Her twin brother, Paolo, said "she was treated like a dog".

Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell said it was "appalling" that only four beds in NSW were dedicated to eating disorders.