GUEST BLOG: Dave Macpherson – There’s a fair bit of money to be made in mental health (or how the system is designed to defeat the ‘little people’)….

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As the various lawyers and other legal types have jostled over the preliminaries ahead of the inquest into our son’s death while in the care of Waikato DHB 18 months ago, I’ve reflected on what a lucrative business mental health can be – for some.

We’re months away from any Coroner’s hearing, but already we are seeing the lawyers for the DHB, the Police, the Coroner, and the medical professional staff sucking heavily on the public teat as they fire submission after submission into the Coroner’s office seeking to limit the scope of the enquiry.

At the same time, our family is reduced to negotiating with our lawyer over how much preparation work my partner and I will do (and have already done), to reduce her already discounted bill.

It surprises many who have not gone through the sort of fight that we are in the middle of, that 100% of the fees of the very highly paid lawyers (including a QC) that the Government agencies responsible for Nicky’s death and the lack of a search for him – the DHB and Police – are funded by you the taxpayer, while we do not get one cent of support from anyone but ourselves, and a few small voluntary private donations kindly given to us.

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Our son was in the legal care of the DHB when he died – a compulsory in-patient care order signed by a DHB Psychiatrist with no input from either Nicky or ourselves – so naively we thought, when we were told there would be a Coroner’s hearing, that the DHB would meet the costs of that.

Foolish us – when we asked the DHB for legal support for the Coroners’ hearing, we were turned down flat, with instructions from the top brass of the Government’s Ministry of Health to the DHB to give us nothing, for fear of ‘creating a precedent.’ When we complained to the Government, we didn’t even get a response.

As well as the cops and DHB, the Psychiatrist responsible to Nicky’s treatment, and other staff involved, have been offered lawyers at no cost by the DHB, and the Coroner himself has contracted a senior lawyer – to ‘assist’ him.

Nicky has no lawyer – he’s dead, and the nominal lawyer he did have scarpered within days of his death. Lawyers employed by the Government as ‘independent’ watchdogs of the mental health facilities ran a mile from previously agreed meetings with our family when they realised the seriousness of the allegations against the health authorities.

The family engaged a lawyer and, to minimise costs, agreed to do a lot of the preparation work ourselves, including some communications with the Coroner – to the extent he got uptight with hearing directly from the great unwashed, and issued a statement stating that only lawyers were to contact him about the case.

Our conservative estimate is that the forces of the state will spend at least $150,000 on legal fees to do with the Coroner’s hearing – we will scrape together $20-$30k to represent our dead son and the family, not a cent from the public purse.

Grossly unfair? Yes. A surprise? No. It does, after all, require some legal expertise to cover the number of backsides that have been exposed in Nicky’s case.

And don’t think this is an isolated incidence – during the last year, we have heard from dozens of other families that have experienced similar grossly unequal treatment during Coroners’ and other official processes. Clearly just more examples of how bureaucracies work hard to hide their failures from people and communities they affect.

Dave Macpherson is TDBs blogger on mental health issues

5 COMMENTS

  1. Dave Macpherson

    I FEEL FOR YOU AND THE MESS THEY HAVE MADE OF YOUR FAMILY’S LIFE VERY DEEPLY.

    I was Chemically Poisoned on my job while as a kiwi working in another country and the company was a large corporate almost as a Government in it’s own right in Canada.

    I fought to stay alive as my brain liver and immune system, was damaged the company sent me to several doctors they had in-house and lawyers also who were overseeing my case.

    I was the breadwinner of two young children and a wife so I also had a lot to loose at the hands of the company.
    After bouncing me as a very sick man around 12 doctors who all said “it was all in my head” I turned to a independent medical doctor who supported patients with paperwork to instruct the company of my demise if I failed to get adequate medical help, which included IV vitamin/mineral infusion’s detoxification and avoidance of any further chemical exposures as he found my own bodies “detoxification” system was damaged and could not repair my body and brain.
    The medical treatments were not covered by either the company medical plan or the government scheme so I had to pay for treatment and 20yrs later still do to stay alive.

    I won my 6yr battle at WCB but they couldn’t award any damages to me because they couldn’t find the “specific” chemical/s that damaged me permanently so it is a partial victory only.

    Back in NZ now even the Medical Minister of Health Nicky Kaye sent me a response to my request for Disability from Chemical poisoning and she sadly could not offer any help so Canada & NZ are similar.

    I was against the whole medical fraternity here fighting my disability and now stay far away from any chemicals that are Volatile organic chemicals made from Petroleum as I will die.

    They call me a “Miners canary” as I have what some call “The 21st century disease”

    Chemical companies know these chemicals harm us all and keep everyone gagged about their chemicals even the doctors sadly.

    Any doctor that says chemicals hurt their patient may be threatened by these corporate Chemical Companies also, so we are alone here.

    My brain was injured by VOC’s in the workplace and proven at a Pittsburgh clinic (outside Canada) as Toxic encephalopathy (or painters syndrome) and still I have bouts of mental disturbances 20yrs later.

    The medical establishment need desperately to learn about chemical harm to patients as in my many years very few are even aware today as to the harm they cause to the patients they care for today as the medical college they were taught at are all funded by chemical/pharmaceutical corporates also so they set the agenda as to what Doctors are taught.

    Follow the money is sadly a weakness of health care today.

    Find a doctor first who knows about chemicals.

    Best for your health & case, and if you want to discuss send a email through the TDB with permission as they have my email.

  2. This may come a bit late, but you may be interested in this:
    http://nzsocialjusticeblog2013.wordpress.com/2014/05/27/health-and-disability-commissioner-can-we-trust-in-hdc-independence/

    https://nzsocialjusticeblog2013.wordpress.com/2015/10/04/how-the-n-z-health-and-disability-commissioner-let-off-a-biased-designated-doctor/

    https://nzsocialjusticeblog2013.wordpress.com/2016/03/28/how-the-hdc-throws-out-valid-complaints-and-protects-code-breaching-health-professionals-a-true-story/

    Read this stuff, and you will get a good impression of what you are up against, when even the HDC operates under legal provisions leaving him and also many practitioners wide open doors to escape any accountability for failings, e.g. malpractice, misconduct and so forth. A slap on the hand with a wet bus ticket is what most have to “fear”.

    And all this was not drawn up by any persons who really had the patient’s well being at their heart, they were designing this legal framework to simply have the HDC operate as a kind of monitoring agency, to simply take note of where things may need fixing. But the patient is left pretty much out of the equation, as there are few if any real remedies against wrongdoings by practitioners and health workers.

    They ALL work together, DHBs, HDC, government and other vested interest holding groups, organisations and people, that is except the patient and his or her advocates.

  3. Under this government, over recent years, legal aid has already been effectively CUT, by making it damned hard to get now, especially for civil legal proceedings. But wait, this is what is planned now, reported on by RNZ today:

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/312868/six-of-eight-legal-aid-offices-to-shut

    And this is the result of the previous cuts I just mentioned:
    http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/312823/fair-trials-undermined-by-legal-aid-system-ex-judge

    So prepare for RNZ having its budget reviewed soon, its funding, and some working there to fear for their jobs, as such reporting will not go down well with our government!

    One law for the elite, the RICH PRICKS and the government and big business of course, another “law” (NO justice) for those common people who have NO funds to either take on and file for proceedings, or who may also be the ones having to defend themselves.

    This is what the majority of voters voted for, I suppose, it enabled them to get tax cuts.

    • We need all opposition Parties now to pull together to defeat this evil tyrannical government!!!

      As they are conducting a war in real time with a goal of Genocide on us the 99% by the evil 1% – a class war.

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