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'It's just not good enough' - frustrated parents petition DHBs not to keep autistic son in isolation

A family who have been battling for the past five years to get their son out of an isolation ward in a mental health facility in Porirua say they're still struggling to make any progress.

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

David and Marlena Peacock with Autism Action New Zealand presented a petition to parliament today with over 5,100 signatures calling for the Minister of Health to urgently relocate their 38-year-old-son-Ashley.

They say they are frustrated by Capital and Coast DHB's lack of momentum.

"They're just delaying the process the entire time," Mrs Peacock said.

Ashley was admitted to CCDHB's Tawhirimatea unit in Porirua in 2006 as a compulsory patient under the Mental Health Act.

Since 2010, Ashley has spent two-and-a-half years in a seclusion unit at Tawhirimatea, where his parents are prohibited from visiting him.

A National Intellectual Disability Care Agency review in March found that it was possible for Ashley to have a day base outside the unit, however the Peacocks says the process has been delayed.

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

Marlena Peacock said her son has had "massive physical problems" as a direct result of his living conditions, including kidney damage.

She said Ashley remains in the unit despite significant progress.

Green Party health spokesperson Kevin Hague has called the lack of action "extraordinary", following reports by the Chief Ombudsman finding Ashley's ongoing seclusion "cruel, inhuman and degrading".

"It takes us right back to the days of Bedlam and the wards that we thought we had left behind us," he said.

Wellington Central Labour MP Grant Robertson says the solution lies with Minister of Health Jonathan Coleman and the health board.

"They can't keep kicking the football around … yes, there is a cost associated with this, but it's the cost of a decent society and he [Jonathan Coleman] needs to step up."

By Rosel Labone.