Green Party wants urgent inquiry into mental health failings

  • 19/06/2016
(Reuters file)
(Reuters file)

The Green Party says an autistic man forced into lock-up deserves compassion, rather than being treated like a violent criminal.

Ashley Peacock's plight has been described by the Chief Ombudsman as degrading, inhuman and cruel.

Green Party health spokesperson Kevin Hague believes his problems are only being made worse by his treatment at the hands of the Government.

"The people who have been calling for Ashley to transition out of the seclusion where he's been held for the last five years include the Ombudsmen who have investigated that situation under their brief to deal with crimes of torture. That's a pretty strong illustration," says Mr Hague.

"These reports of terrible failure that are leading to people's deaths or ruining people's lives are coming now from all around the country. I believe Jonathan Coleman has no choice but to initiate a nationwide and urgent inquiry."

Mr Hague says Mr Peacock is not as violent or dangerous as he is being made out to be by those keeping him in seclusion.

"Capital and Coast DHB are going out of their way to depict Ashley as a violent person. There has been some incidents of violence, but according to the experts they seem to be caused in large measure by the situation he is being held in," says Mr Hague.

"He's trapped, effectively, in a downward spiral. Releasing him from that situation into a controlled environment that is nonetheless more home-like, will in fact improve his mental state and reduce the violence."

Mr Hague says Mr Peacock's situation is simply the latest to be reported on in an increasing pattern of mental health service failings.

"Ashley's case comes after a number of others, the preventable suicides of Sam Fischer and Nicky Stevens for example. These confirm what I've been hearing from people working in health services, and service users and their families -- that mental health services are failing more and more New Zealanders," says Mr Hague.

"Jonathan Coleman as the Minister of Health has to decide whether or not this is acceptable to him. Tragedy piled upon tragedy is unacceptable to most New Zealanders. Unless Jonathan Coleman acts to change that, then his behaviour, I'm sure, will be unacceptable to them too."

Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier urged in his report for Mr Peacock's situation "to be resolved without any further delay".