The mother and brother of Nicky Stevens, who took his own life while in the care of Waikato DHB's mental health facility in 2015 have told Health Minister David Clark there are gaps in the process following the suicide of a loved one.
Jane and Tony Stevens met Clark in his Beehive office this morning following a coroner's finding earlier this month into Nicky's "avoidable" 2015 death.
Jane Stevens told the Herald they had emphasised to Clark gaps in the system.
"One was around the urgent need for an independent whanau advisory service to be established," she said.
"The coroner talked about that a little bit more from the perspective of what happens after a tragedy and the importance of that and the inability for the current Health and Disability Commission to deal with the complaints and the issues, the length of time it takes and the lack of support for people through processes like the coronial process.
"A lot of families are just totally isolated and don't know where to go and one of the things that we said to the minister today is that our family was used to speaking out, used to bureaucracy, and even we weren't able to save our son," Jane Stevens said.
They had also raised the idea of an independent body to do the reviews and investigations when there were cases such as theirs.
"We had the DHB doing their internal review, the IPCA investigating their failure to look for our son, and the two processes were like planets apart," she said.
Tony Stevens said Clark was open to what they had to say but had made no promises given that the Government would respond formally to the Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction by March next year.
"He agreed with all the concerns and issues that were raised, he just didn't commit to any kind of response."
Speaking to reporters afterwards, Clark said it was important to hear the Stevens' story as the Government formulated its response to the inquiry.
"I made it clear that as Minister of Health my role is not to intervene in individual cases. Equally with the kinds of the requests they're making, many of them are parallel in the Mental Health and Addiction review," Clark said.
"We've been clear that we've moving urgently but we want to take time to make sure that our response is appropriate to the serious suggestions made in that review."
The death of 21–year-old Nicky Stevens was ruled "avoidable" by Coroner Wallace Bain in his report released to the Herald earlier this month.
He found Nicky's death was self-inflicted after he was allowed out of the Henry Rongomau Bennett Centre at Waikato Hospital on March 9, 2015, on unescorted leave, against the express direction of his parents.
In his report following an inquest in June, Bain said Nicky's death could have been avoided had the advice of his parents not to allow their son on unescorted leave been adhered to.
In his report, Bain directed that submissions made by Nicky's family be considered by the Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction.