It has cost the public healthcare system about $750,000 in the past year to manage Ashley Peacock, an autistic man whose isolation has sparked human rights concerns.
The Capital & Coast District Health Board (CCDHB) confirmed the spending before a parliamentary health select committee on Wednesday.
Peacock, who is a compulsory patient under the Mental Health Act, is an intellectually disabled, autistic and mentally ill man who has spent the past five years in at a Porirua facility, spending up to 23 hours a day in his isolation wing.
Agencies, including the Human Rights Commission, have raised concerns about his treatment, with the United Nations funding its review of the use of seclusion in New Zealand.
That’s a huge amount of money one just one patient. Considering how tight health budgets are, I can’t imagine they would be keeping him so secluded in such a costly way if there was a safe alternative.
The DHB’s written response to the Greens’ select committee questions outlined that its reasons for continuing to hold him as an inpatient under the Mental Health Act was because his psychotic illness was resistant to treatment, and he was assessed as being at a very high risk of harm to others.
It’s easy to think that he would get better if he was allowed out more, but in some cases it simply isn’t the case.