Nicky Stevens' father, Dave Macpherson, unhappy with Waikato DHB report

Nicky Stevens was under the care of the Waikato District Health Board when he wandered off during an unsupervised smoke ...

Nicky Stevens was under the care of the Waikato District Health Board when he wandered off during an unsupervised smoke break. He was later found dead.

Nicky Stevens' family would have liked to remember him as a musical person who enjoyed a philosophical debate about eating meat.

Instead, they have to remember him as a mental health patient.

Stevens, who was schizophrenic, was under a compulsory care order at the Henry Rongomau Bennett Centre in Hamilton when he failed to return from an unsupervised 15-minute smoke break on March 9, 2015.

His body was found in the Waikato River on March 12.

The family had hoped for some form of closure when the Waikato DHB released a report into his care.

But his father, Dave Macpherson, said the report lacked empathy and accountability, leaving the family reeling.

"The report started with 'Overall, the care offered to Nicky whilst in HRBC was of a good standard,' " Macpherson said after a two-hour meeting with the DHB on Friday afternoon.

Along with wife Jane Stevens, he met with chief executive Nigel Murray and the executive director of mental health and addictions Derek Wright.

"That just made us angry. Our son is dead. That is not a good standard."

He believed the report should have opened with an apology to the family, then should have owned up to its failings.

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There were five issues identified in the report: risk assessment, leave process, unescorted leave, family involvement and medication management.

"There is no closure for us."

Murray presented the pair with an apology letter on Friday afternoon, which stated "Waikato DHB apologises unreservedly and we, the Chairman, Chief Executive and Director of Clinical Services/Mental Health and Addiction Service, respectively also apologise personally for the shortcomings identified in our processes related to Nicky's management. There is no denying the fact that our management of leave was unsatisfactory."

Murray expressed once again that it was a terrible tragedy.

"We did have less than satisfactory leave management processes," he said.

However, Murray did not believe the report lacked either empathy or accountability.

It was robust and accurate and he stood by it, he said.

"The report is what it is. It wasn't written by us. I wasn't involved in the report.

"It wasn't led by our people. It wasn't a report on mental health itself - we have got to make that really clear."

Murray believed the first thing people focused on whether the standard of care was substandard.

"They have an obligation to answer it straight away. However, they went on to say there were a whole bunch of things that needed improvement."

Murray expressed gratitude to Nicky Stevens' family for their input, which had allowed the DHB to learn a lot during the process.

"The commitment to do better is at the heart of all of us."

Wright agreed with Murray - that the centre was a dynamic environment in which everyone was always wanting to do and be better.

As a result, there was now a greater emphasis on involving families and recording family views, he said.

Wright also mentioned the Henry Bennett Centre staff who had been working with Stevens, and that they had found the past two years taxing.

"Our staff knew Nicky really well. They worked with him every day. Our staff have gone through a difficult time as well."

"[The report] gives them the sense of, could they have done anything different?

"Can we do better, is there something we could have changed? It's been answered for them."


 - Stuff

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