The Waikato District Health Board (DHB) today declined a request from the family of Nicky Stevens to pay their legal fees.
Chair Bob Simcock said the board made the decision after extensive consideration. Members again expressed their condolences to the family on Nicky’s death. If the board had agreed to pay the legal fees, it would set a precedent and result in cost implications for Waikato DHB, he said.
“We can’t find any evidence of any other district health board making payments like this before. Meeting costs of this kind in similar cases would have an impact on patient care,” he said.
“Parliament’s solution is to have a legal aid structure. If that is not a fair structure, the issue is for Parliament and not this board.”
Mr Simcock said the board was following an internationally supported best practice quality process to look into the care provided by Waikato DHB to Nicky Stevens.
“To pay legal fees at this stage could have far-reaching implications for that process,” he said.
There are two investigations currently underway which Waikato DHB is involved in.
The first is the Health Quality and Safety Commission’s recommended serious events process which is an internal review conducted by an experienced staff member.
That is the internationally supported best practice process.
This panel also includes three independent people – a psychiatrist, mental health nurse and a lay person.
The second is the coronial process into Nicky Stevens’ sudden death while under the care of the DHB.