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DHB refuses legal funding for Nicky Stevens’ family

DHB refuses legal funding for Nicky Stevens’ family

The Waikato DHB Board today turned down a request by the family of deceased patient Nicky Stevens for funding to cover the legal costs faced in an upcoming Coroner’s inquest and other legal processes.

The decision was branded as “unfair, and insulting to the memory of a patient who the DHB had a duty to care for,” by Stevens’ mother Jane Stevens.

“The DHB are using taxpayers’ money to fund their own legal costs, and the legal costs of the management and clinicians who were responsible for Nicky.”

“But they won’t put a red cent towards the costs their stupid decisions have forced on our family,” she said.

Stevens’ father Dave Macpherson said the “Waikato DHB's failure to accept any practical responsibility for their actions is typical of this country’s health system who, when found to have caused deaths, are never made accountable and never offer more than wet bus ticket apologies.”

Due to the DHB decision, Stevens’ brother Tony is today starting a ‘Givealittle’ fundraising website to support the family’s ongoing legal battle:

Nicky Stevens, 21, was an inpatient under a ‘compulsory care order’ at the DHB’s Henry Bennett Centre, a mental health facility in Hamilton, when he went missing on March 9th, after being let out on an unsupervised ‘cigarette break’.

His body was found in the Waikato River on 12th March, three days after his disappearance.

Stevens had earlier been admitted to Waikato Hospital after attempting suicide, and the Centre’s management and clinicians had been informed of at least one further attempt by Nicky to drown himself, prior to 9th March, while on supposed ‘cigarette breaks’.

His family had explicitly warned DHB management and clinicians of Nicky’s high suicide risk in the week prior to his disappearance, but the Hospital had ignored their insistence on supervision of all breaks and had renewed the ‘unescorted leave’ only two days after the family had written to, and met with, Centre management to complain about it.

As a result of Steven’s death, the family are required to be involved in an upcoming Coroner’s inquest, as well as the DHB’s own internal investigation, police investigations, and a possible Health & Disability Commission hearing.


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