The Herald this morning has an appalling story about Capital Coast DHB's treatment of an autistic man. They're torturing him, keeping him locked in a "seclusion unit" for five years. The Ombudsman has ordered him freed, and they're still torturing him. Why? To put it bluntly, cuts are to blame:
After the Ombudsman's report, Ashley seemed very close to release. A provider, Community Connections, was found. Plans were made to find him a home, to design an individual funding package, and to train specialist staff.
But it never happened. Reports mention a "tightening" of funding. Psychiatrists also wanted Ashley to be less "disturbed" before he was allowed out of the seclusion ward, and to try living in another part of Tawhirimatea with more patients for a while.
Funding for effective therapy gets discontinued. When they come up with a new transition plan, it doesn't get funded. And so they keep torturing him, because the DHB has no money to treat him effectively, no money to treat him like a human being. And in the process, they are exacerbating his condition, making it worse.
This is simply wrong. Capital Coast DHB are torturing this man because it is not a budget priority not to, because it is not financially convenient to stop. But it needs to stop. And those responsible for this prolonged torture need to be prosecuted for their crimes.