Torture inspectors uncover 'cruel, degrading' care in hospitals

By July 18, 2016 Recent News

NZ Herald 18 July 2016
• More than 60 reports into mental health and disability units released to Herald following investigation into the care of Ashley Peacock.
• He is one of four cases which could be considered ‘cruel, inhuman or degrading’ in secure units at New Zealand hospitals.
• Inspectors found other repeated examples of poor care, including overcrowding and untrained staff. Some patients did not have access to fresh air or water.
• The Chief Ombudsman is ‘sufficiently concerned’ to consider launching a special inquiry.
Elderly, mentally ill patients were subjected to the “prolonged and excessive” use of restraint belts at a secure hospital unit – one of the potential human rights breaches uncovered by torture inspectors.
A Herald investigation has analysed more than 60 Crimes of Torture Act reports written about health and disability detention sites across New Zealand and will make them public for the first time.
District health boards supplied the documents under the Official Information Act following a Herald investigation into the treatment of autistic man Ashley Peacock, who was held in prolonged seclusion at a mental health unit in Porirua, despite inspectors warning the conditions were “cruel, inhuman or degrading”.
The reports detail three other cases at that level – each arguably a breach of our international human rights obligations – as well as dozens of other examples of poor quality care at the 50 sites examined since 2010.
The Human Rights Commission and the Office of the Ombudsman believe the findings highlight systemic issues, including the continued dominance of “punitive” treatment instead of a therapeutic approach.