Patient abuse claims at Porirua Hospital investigated
01 June 2004
Complaints of mistreatment of former patients at Porirua Hospital are under investigation by the Crown Law Office, it has been revealed.
Prime Minister Helen Clark and Attorney-General Margaret Wilson have left the door open to an inquiry but say the complaints must be investigated first.
Ms Wilson confirmed yesterday that the Crown was investigating 62 claims about treatment at various psychiatric institutions, including Porirua, and a further 44 complaints were likely to be filed.
"The Crown's investigations will take some time because many of the claims relate to incidents that took place more than 30 years ago. The Crown treats these claims seriously and that's why they're all being investigated."
Ms Wilson said: "Generally, the Crown will not make payments unless legal liability can be established."
She gave no details of the claims.
Former child psychiatric patients allege they were abused, beaten, raped and given shock treatment while they were kept in hospital during the 1960s and 1970s. They are seeking damages for ill-treatment and abuse.
Lawyers acting for the group say the allegations include patients enduring long periods of solitary confinement and the use of electro-convulsive therapy as punishment.
Records show that some of the children were as young as nine when they were placed in psychiatric institutions because of "behavioural difficulties".
Most of the complaints relate to treatment at Porirua Hospital but other hospitals have been named, including Dunedin's Cherry Farm, Nga Whatu in Nelson and Sunnyside Hospital in Christchurch.
The claims are similar to those made by former Lake Alice Hospital patients, who got a secret pay out from the Government for mistreatment.