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Exploring ideas for psychiatric claims

Exploring ideas for psychiatric claims

Attorney-General Margaret Wilson is exploring ways to allow former psychiatric patients to avoid court cases if they wish.

"Many claimants have called on the Government to consider an alternative to litigation. So far, 68 individual, historic claims have been filed in the High Court. I understand there are more than 300 people who have not yet filed claims.

"We believe there is much merit in exploring ideas that allow claimants and the government to resolve these claims other than through litigation.

At this stage the government is still talking to claimants and specific options have not been finalized. Further work is needed before decisions are made and options announced, Margaret Wilson said.

However, in terms of identifying benefits, any option that allows former patients, staff, and their families to air their grievances and tell their experiences in a place other than in an open courtroom is a worthwhile idea.

“Going to court is always an option. It is, however, a forum where liability and blame are attributed through adversarial means. This may not be appropriate or helpful for many former patients, staff, and their families. We have to make sure we do the best thing for everyone concerned.

"The idea of alternatives to litigation has arisen from those calls for alternative solutions, while bearing in mind that the Government has a public accountability not to pay out money on claims unless there is good reason established to do so.

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