Waikato DHB happy to set precedent leading to Nicky's death – but won't set precedent to support grieving family

Waikato DHB happy to set precedent leading to Nicky's death – but won't set precedent to support grieving family

Waikato DHB happy to set precedent leading to Nicky's death – but won't set precedent to support grieving family

Waikato DHB bosses told Nicky Stevens' family yesterday that "levelling the playing field" by funding their Coroner's inquest legal costs would set a dangerous precedent.

Nicky was found drowned in the Waikato River last month, three days after being let out from the DHB's Henry Bennett Centre unsupervised and unwatched, despite earlier suicide attempts and the family's written insistence that he not be released unsupervised.

Nicky's family met with DHB CEO Nigel Murray and DHB Board chair Bob Simcock yesterday to discuss their request for legal funding, and repeated their case for the same treatment as the DHB gives itself when funding its own legal representation at Coroners' hearings.

While the request will still be put to a vote at a DHB meeting in Tokoroa next week, "it became increasingly clear as the meeting progressed that Mr Murray and Mr Simcock were totally resistant to playing fair," said Nicky's brother Tony Stevens.

"Mr Simcock expressed a real fear of setting a precedent that other disadvantaged families could follow," he said.

"He needs to show some courage and make the right decision."

Nicky's mother Jane Stevens added "it is exactly the type of precedent the DHB needs to set."

She said "if the Henry Bennett Centre did its job properly and made sure patients were safe while in their care, they wouldn't face many legal expenses like this.",

Nicky's father Dave Macpherson challenged the DHB representatives by reminding them that their organisation "was responsible for the death of a patient who was in their LEGAL care."

He told the DHB representatives that he was "certain the DHB was under political pressure from the Ministry of Health and their employers to say no to the family, but pointed out that providing legal support was neither illegal, nor a breach of DHB policies."

"Our family has given the board a chance to do the right thing, an opportunity to show they do care about families who suffer as a result of their failures," he commented.

"We are not hopeful of a good result, but will continue to fight hard in every way we can to get justice for Nicky."

Posted: Thursday 16 April 2015


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