Michael Parry investigation: update

The Nelson Marlborough District Health Board has confirmed that the Health and Disability Commission and Medical Council of New Zealand are investigating four complaints about surgery at Wairau Hospital between July 2011 and June 2012.

It is understood the four cases include the deaths of Jim Nicholls and Rachel Riddell, and the non-fatal botched surgery of two women.

The Express asked the board under the Official Information Act in November to clarify how many inquiries were under way or had been completed during 2011-12 and 2010-11 into surgery or post-surgery matters such as death, or serious or unexpected outcomes.

The query was made after it became public that Wairau Hospital surgeon Michael Parry had stood down after Mr Nicholls, of Blenheim, died following surgery at Wairau Hospital in May last year.

The Express asked the board if any other medical staff were part of further action as a result of inquiries into the complaints. In a reply received this month, board secretary Mike Cummins said no action had been taken against other Wairau Hospital staff.

He confirmed that the coroner was investigating two complaints involving deaths and, to the board's knowledge, one of those complaints was being investigated by the police.

External inquiries were still under way into three of the four complaints.

Three of the inquiries were prompted by Health and Disability Commission complaints and board processes, one in response to board processes alone and one after a separate complaint, Mr Cummins said.

No family members made direct complaints, he said.

One inquiry was carried out in the 2010-11 financial year, Mr Cummins said.

The board replied to the questions from the Express after intervention from the Ombudsman.

The coroner's investigation into the cause of death of Mr Parry's patients at Wairau Hospital has been adjourned while the police investigate further.

The Express asked the Ministry of Justice how often this happened. Ministry special jurisdictions general manager Heather Baggott said the ministry did not record how many investigations by the coroner were suspended during police investigations, nor did it separate out Marlborough and Nelson statistics.

Police investigated all deaths referred to the coroner, at least in a preliminary way, she said.

The ministry said 102 deaths in Nelson and Marlborough had been referred to a coroner between January 1 and December 31.


The Marlborough Express