The mother of a man who took his own life says a Dunedin psychiatrist's proposed apology for shortcomings in his care was a "mocking response", and hurtful to the memory of her son.

Corinda Taylor said the apology letter was released to her by the Health and Disability Commissioner, which had rejected it. Dr Richard Mullen has submitted a second apology to the authority for approval. The HDC declined to confirm those details. The rejected apology, released to Mrs Taylor under the Official Information Act, is just four sentences long.

"The HDC has directed that I apologise to you. I am therefore writing to you to apologise for the findings made by the commissioner," Dr Mullen's rejected apology reads.

Earlier this year, the HDC ordered both Dr Mullen and the Southern District Health Board to apologise to the Taylor family after finding shortcomings in Ross Taylor's care. Mr Taylor was 20 when he died in 2013.


DHB mental health medical director Dr Brad Strong said Dr Mullen had written another apology.

"We have discussed this letter with Dr Mullen, who indicates that the letter in question is not his final offering on this matter and another draft letter is presently with the HDC.

"Southern DHB has also apologised to the Taylor family for the shortcomings in the care their son received.

"We will continue to work with all parties on any outstanding matters relating to this tragic case," Dr Strong said.

Mrs Taylor said her family was hurt by Dr Mullen's "mocking response", and felt any subsequent apology would be "coerced" and meaningless.

"We understand the Mental Health Commissioner did not accept this apology as suitable for forwarding to us.

"At this stage an apology is three months overdue," Mrs Taylor said.

"It is unbelievable and hurtful to us and to the memory of our son, Ross, that this could happen.

"It is a ... mocking response and shows absolutely no remorse," she said.

In his report, released in April, Mental Health Commissioner Kevin Allan found the SDHB and Dr Mullen both breached the patients' rights code by failing to provide services with reasonable care and skill.

Dr Mullen was not named in the HDC report.

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