Health board denies claims autistic man living in isolation after petition presented to Parliament

A district health board manager has denied claims that some clients are living in isolation or seclusion in mental health inpatient services.

Marlena and Dave Peacock have launched a petition calling on the government to intervene in son Ashley's case. Source: 1 NEWS

The comments follow a petition presented to Parliament yesterday by Autism Action New Zealand Zealand and Dave and Marlena Peacock, with over 5100 signatures, calling for the Minister of Health Jonathan Coleman to urgently relocate their 38-year-old son Ashley.

The Peacocks said Ashley, who has autism spectrum disorder, has been housed in an isolation wing of CCDHB’s Tawihirmatea unit in Porirua for the last five years, only being let out for an average of 90 minutes a day.

Ashley remains in the unit, and the Peacocks said they are frustrated by Capital and Coast DHB's lack of momentum.

"We've heard nothing since July from CCDHB. It's just not good enough," said Marlena Peacock.

But DHB general manager for mental health addictions and intellectual disability services Nigel Fairley denied Ashley is living in isolation, and said no client in their mental health inpatient services is admitted because of autism.

The Chief Ombudsman’s latest Crime of Torture Act report, released in June 2016, found Ashley’s ongoing seclusion "cruel, inhuman and degrading", and said the situation needed to be resolved "without further delay".

In a statement yesterday Nigel Fairley said CCDHB and the Ministry of Health were "continuing to work together" on the concerns raised by Mr and Mrs Peacock.

Ashley’s case has led to the Human Rights Commission announcing it will bring an international expert to New Zealand to investigate seclusion practices.

Green Party health spokesperson Kevin Hague said yesterday at Parliament that if the Government refuses to undertake an investigation into mental health services "the Ombudsman is considering doing that himself, so serious is this issue".

By Rosel Labone