The Waikato District Health Board has been heavily criticised in a coroner’s report into the death of mental health patient Nicky Stevens.
In March 2015, the inpatient at Waikato’s Henry Bennett Centre went outside for a cigarette – and today the coroner confirmed Nicky committed suicide.
Key findings from Coroner Wallace Bain’s report are damning. Most notably, that Nicky’s death could have been avoided.
“It was so bittersweet, so hard to hear that kind of official statement like that,” Jane Stevens, Nicky’s mother, said. “We felt vindicated but devastated at the same time to know that our son, if things had been different would be still with us.”
Among other findings, the report also found that Nicky’s treatment was well below what he and his family would have expected – and that Nicky should not have been allowed to go out unescorted.
“You don't really expect someone to 100 per cent agree with you like he has,” Dave Macpherson, Nicky’s father, said.
In a statement, Derek Wright, the interim chief executive of the Waikato DHB, offered his condolences to Nicky’s family.
“The death of Nicky was a terrible tragedy and this has been a long and painful journey for everyone involved, both the family, our staff and the wider community. I want to express my sincere sympathy to Nicky's family for their loss,” he said.
“We will now be working through the findings and recommendations in the report.”
The report has also recommended that Health Minister David Clark takes its findings into account as part of the Government’s inquiry into the mental health system.
Mr Clark told 1 NEWS he expects health officials to take a look at it and provide him with any advice.
Nicky’s parents say they would now like an apology from the Waikato DHB.