Independent Revier for Mental Health Failures Required
INDEPENDENT REVIEW AUTHORITY FOR MENTAL HEALTH FAILURES REQUIRED:
17 September 2017
An external review into the treatment and management of a forensic mental health patient has cleared Auckland’s Mason Clinic of any culpability in the lead up to a frenzied machete attack on a woman in 2015.
Manjit Singh was a special patient under the Mental Health Act after being found not guilty by reason of insanity of serious charges relating to a 2008 attack on his partner, when he breached the conditions of his leave, and again attacked his former partner in November last year.
Mr Singh was on leave from the Auckland-based Mason Clinic when the attack happened.
In the wake of the review, advocate for victims of mentally ill offenders, Graeme Moyle, is calling for an independent review panel along the lines of the Independent Police Conduct Authority to investigate all serious and adverse events involving mental health patients.
“These so called external reviews are a farce” Moyle says, “an old boys’ network designed to exonerate DHBs of any hint of failure and apportion blame anywhere but on themselves”.
“I see it time and time again, a colleague bought in from a neighbouring DHB to investigate their own and facilitate a favourable result”.
“Often the Police end up being the scapegoat for blatant failures by a system in crisis” says Moyle, “or as in this case the patient and his family take the blame”.
“Mr Singh was in the care and management of the Mason Clinic at the time of his latest offending”
The Ministry of Health acknowledged that the report found that the processes followed by the Mason Clinic in making decisions around the care of Mr Singh were largely sound and stated that overall the standard of clinical care was of a very high standard.
“Clearly they didn’t manage his release effectively and were lucky they weren’t dealing with a homicide investigation as a result of their incompetence”.
The report went on to state that the management of Mr Singh’s condition and risk was consistent with the expectations for a special patient in his circumstances.
“If they believe this to be true, there is real reason to be concerned” said Moyle. “As a registered victim myself I am very worried that they perceive the management of Mr Singh to be of a high standard”
“Quite frankly I expect more. If Mr Singh was an inmate in a Correctional facility there would be hell to pay”.
In a similar case in May 2015 Richard Hawkins, also a discharged special patient, stabbed a man in the head while waiting for a train in Waikanae. Hawkins had been acquitted by reason of insanity of murdering his brother in 2002 and was again successful with an insanity defence in relation to his latest offending.
“Once again this could have easily been a homicide” says Moyle.
“As for the report? It seem’s the Capital and Coast DHB don’t believe there’s any public interest in releasing it so it will never see the light of day”.
“The time has come for some honesty and transparency around these events” Moyle said, “and the only way that’s going to happen is if the investigations are handled by a truly independent body”.