Brother of former PM seeks bigger care payout
The brother of former prime minister Mike Moore says he has been "short-changed" after receiving $2000 compensation for his treatment at a psychiatric hospital.
His payment comes as the disability rights commissioner calls for a "national apology" to hundreds of people who have been mistreated or abused in psychiatric care.
Shane Moore has finally received a $2000 payout and an apology from the Ministry of Health, as compensation for being treated "unreasonably" while at Porirua Hospital in the 1980s.
Newspapers at the time reported that in one instance Mr Moore was committed by two MPs, both doctors, after he confronted one of them angrily in his office. Mr Moore believes he was a political prisoner and has repeatedly blamed his brother for his committal.
Mr Moore said his time inside and the drugs he was forced to take had "ruined his life", leading to a string of convictions and problems finding work.
"If you're not crazy when you go into hospital you are certainly crazy when you get out."
While he appreciated the apology, the money was "not enough to feed a mouse", he said.
His brother, Mike, New Zealand ambassador to the United States, declined to comment.
The ministry also declined to comment on Shane Moore's case, citing privacy.
He is one of more than 300 former psychiatric patients who have received compensation from the state. Mr Moore is among the first paid out since the Ministry of Health took over the process from the Health Crown Financing Agency, which was wound up last year.
Cooper Legal senior associate Katharine Ross, who is representing many of the remaining psychiatric claimants, said she had serious concerns about how the claims were now being handled by the ministry.
Since taking over, the ministry had roughly halved the maximum amount offered to former patients and appeared to have no funding allocated for the payments, she said.
This left victims disadvantaged purely because they had taken longer to come forward. "These claims range from inappropriate medication to sexual abuse by staff members."
The ministry has denied cutting compensation. Chief legal adviser Phil Knipe said the compensation offered was "consistent" with what was previously offered but reflected that newer claimants had not incurred the same legal expenses.
Disability Rights Commissioner Paul Gibson said that for every former patient who had sought compensation and an apology another continued to suffer in silence.
"Some intellectually disabled people haven't been able to engage in this process," he said.
A public apology from the Government was needed to acknowledge past wrongs and help prevent them occurring again, Mr Gibson said.
But Health Minister Tony Ryall said there were no plans for a "blanket apology". Instead, former patients who were found to have a legitimate claim were receiving individual apologies.
"We know that this apology cannot change the past, but we hope it will go some way towards enabling these former patients to move on from their past experiences."
PAYING FOR THE PAST
The Government has received 401 claims of abuse or mistreatment from people who were in psychiatric care before the May 1993 compensation cut-off date.
The Crown Health Finance Agency, which was wound up last year, resolved 330 of these claims, paying out $4.8 million.
Another six claims were either rejected by the agency or the claimants could not be found.
Since taking over last year, the Ministry of Health has received a further 65 claims and resolved 28, paying out $113,000.
Another 29 claims are still being processed while eight have been referred to other agencies or discontinued.
The average payout under the ministry has been about $4200 – compared with about $14,500 under the agency.
The Dominion Post