18 Nov 2017

'I've never been contacted by neighbours or the community'

5:40 pm on 18 November 2017

Claims patients in a respite centre in Porirua were a risk to neighbours have been denied by the organisation in charge.

In March a mentally unwell man walked out of the facility in Whitby and tried to abduct a three-year-old girl who was walking with her father.

Man silouhetted in flat kitchen

Claims patients of a respite centre in Porirua were a risk to neighbours have been denied. File photo Photo: ( RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King)

An investigation report - released this week - criticised the Capital and Coast District Health Board, saying the man was not assessed properly, and should not have been sent to the facility, which was not equipped to deal with him.

The man had stopped taking his medication and was in a state of psychosis that led him to believe children were in danger.

He was referred to Pathways, run on behalf of the Capital and Coast DHB.

People living near Pathways said they had complained for years that patients were a danger to them and their children, and that they felt vindicated by the report.

But Pathways chief executive Sally Pitts-Brown said the facts suggested otherwise.

"In my nearly four years of being chief executive I've never been contacted by neighbours, the community, or emergency services, or made aware of any significant concerns or incidents."

Sally Pitts-Brown said it was important such respite centres were not demonised by what happened.

Ms Pitts-Brown said staffing in respite centres around the country differ depending on the requirements of the DHB contract, and other Pathway centres around the country had two staff, while the Capital and Coast DHB only provided funding for one.

She fully supported the report's recommendation to increase funding and staffing at the centre.