17 Feb 2017

DHB's apology 'a butt-covering exercise' - family

7:20 pm on 17 February 2017

The family of a man who drowned after being let out from a mental health facility in Hamilton two years ago says an apology by the Waikato District Health Board is not enough.

Nicky Stevens was at a mental health facility and was considered a suicide risk, but was allowed to take an unsupervised cigarette break.

Nicky Stevens was at a mental health facility and was considered a suicide risk, but was allowed to take an unsupervised cigarette break. Photo: Givealittle

Nicky Stevens was a schizophrenic on suicide watch when he wandered off from the Henry Rongomau Bennett Centre in March 2015.

His body was found in the Waikato River three days later

His mother, father and brother this afternoon met with the Waikato DHB chair, chief executive and head of mental health services to talk about a review carried out by the board.

Mr Stevens' mother Jane Stevens said she was very disappointed that the DHB was unable to acknowledge it was responsible for her son's death.

She said they apologised for issues highlighted in a review released today around the management of patient leave, which were significant and lead to her son's death, but the DHB was not prepared to acknowledge that those things contributed to his death.

"I just think it was a butt-covering exercise by the DHB."

Mr Stevens' brother, Tony said the apology meant nothing.

"They denied the issues they were apologising for actually did contribute to his death, so they are flat out saying they had nothing to do with it and the opening line of the report is that the care was of a good standard - but he died."

Dave Macpherson, Mr Steven's father, said he thought the DHB would not admit they caused his son's death because of the risk of liability.

Ms Stevens said there was no closure for the family from the review.

DHB chief executive Nigel Murray said while the care offered was of a good standard there were a number of deficiencies identified, but he's adamant the DHB wasn't responsible for Mr Stevens death.

Dr Murray said he could not guarantee a similar case would not happen again.

A date for a Coroners' inquest was yet to be set.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs