Report on an unannounced inspection of Ward 6C, Dunedin Hospital, under the Crimes of Torture Act 1989
Ombudsmen are designated one of the National Preventive Mechanisms (NPMs) under the Crimes of Torture Act 1989 (COTA), with responsibility for examining and monitoring the conditions and treatment of patients detained in secure units within New Zealand hospitals.
Between 4 and 7 May 2021, Inspectors — whom I have authorised to carry out visits to places of detention under COTA on my behalf — made an unannounced inspection of Ward 6C, which is located in the grounds of Dunedin Hospital in the Southern District Health Board region.
Summary of findings
My findings are:
- staff engaged respectfully with patients;
- whānau of patients were warmly received and provided with updates on any change in their whānau member’s treatment; and
- the detention status of each patient was recorded.
The issues that need addressing are:
- whānau were unable to ‘take in’ information during their whānau member’s admission process, reducing their ability to remember what services their whānau member had been offered;
- provision of an admission pack about the Ward to whānau was inconsistent – some whānau had been provided with a pack, while others had not;
- whānau were unsure what ‘voluntary status’ meant; and
- access to fresh air and sunlight for patients was restricted.
I recommend that:
Follow up inspections will be made at future dates to monitor implementation of my recommendations.
On completion of the inspection, my Inspectors met with representatives of the Southern District Health Board and the Ward’s leadership team, to summarise their initial observations.
 When the term Inspectors is used, it refers to the inspection team that included the OPCAT Manager, Senior Inspectors, and Inspectors.
 This document refers to whānau rather than family. In Te Ao Māori, whānau encompasses family in the fullest meaning. Whānau may include immediate and extended family, whakapapa (genealogy), as well as all persons connected by emotional or spiritual bonds. Any person who has been involved in the care or welfare of a patient may also be considered whānau (kaupapa whānau).
 When asked, whānau spoken to said they could not always recall the information they had been provided with on admission.