Report will do 'little to improve mental health services'

Nicky Stevens (Facebook)
Nicky Stevens (Facebook)

The family of a man who died after escaping a Waikato mental health facility says a new report will do little to improve services.

An investigation into Waikato DHB's mental health services followed several serious failings last year, including the employment of an alleged fake psychiatrist and the escape and suicide of a patient.

It's been just over a year, but Dave Macpherson, the father of deceased Nicky Stevens, says feelings over the loss of his son are still raw.

"[We are] sad, angry and frustrated, and determined.  We're not going to give up."

Mr Stevens -- a schizophrenic patient -- was supposed to be escorted while outside, but was allowed to take an unsupervised cigarette break and then left the Henry Rongomau Bennett Centre.

His body was found three days later in the Waikato River.

It's one of a series of serious events which prompted a formal inspection of Waikato DHB's mental health services.

Dr John Crawshaw, director of mental health, said "We are confident that the services are appropriate, that they are well led, well managed, and are implementing an appropriate model of care."

Mr  Macpherson doesn't agree.

"I think it's a whitewash, basically saying everything's hunky-dory and yes there are a few mistakes around the edges, that's about all that it says."

The report makes several recommendations, including addressing understaffing -- the DHB's already taken on six more employees and is looking to improve patient care and minimising risks.

"It is pleasing to me to see the changes that they have made since we started to do the inspection which I think bodes well for the future," Dr Crawshaw said.

But Mr Stevens' family says security is still slack and there needs to be a complete change of culture.