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Flavell shocked by state of healthcare in prisons


Te Ururoa Flavell
MP for Waiariki
Thursday 16 February, 2012

Flavell shocked by state of healthcare in prisons

Te Ururoa Flavell, MP for Waiariki, is shocked by the Ombudsman's report - the Investigation of the Department of Corrections in relation to the Provision, Access and Availability of Prisoner Health Services which was released today.

The report highlights a number of issues that must be urgently addressed by the Department of Corrections in order to ensure that prisoners receive adequate access to health care.

"I am very disturbed by the report's findings, particularly in relation to mental health. The report has identified that there are deficiencies in the way that healthcare is provided to these prisoners, and yet the incidence of mental health and drug and alcohol problems is much higher than for the wider community." said Flavell.

"As we know, it is a basic human right that every citizen have access to the best possible healthcare. That is something that we must provide for all citizens of this country, regardless if they are in prison or not."

"The punishment for committing a crime is to do their time in prison, it does not mean that while they are there that New Zealand absolves ourselves from the responsibility to provide them access to their basic rights as human beings - by negligence or any other means."

Flavell also reacted to the report's findings on treatment of prisoners at risk of self-harm saying "It is just not good enough that our State funded prisons deal with the issue of self-harm by isolating patients. What do they think that does to patients? It certainly doesn’t make them better, in fact I would think that would lead to further mental health issues."

Mr Flavell was also concerned at the findings outlined in the report that show 47 Maori prisoners died from suicide between 1971 and 1995.

"I expect more from the Department of Corrections. I want to see up to date reporting on the way they treat patients with mental health issues, and I want to see up to date numbers on what is happening in the area of self-harm rates. I also want to see them providing health services that meet the requirements of the International convention of economic, social and cultural rights - that is access to 'the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.'

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