Settlement for former Lake Alice patientsPrime Minister
Prime Minister Helen Clark and Health Minister Annette King today announced that the Crown has reached a settlement with a group of 95 people who were patients in the Child and Adolescent Unit of Lake Alice hospital.
The 95 former patients were at the Lake Alice unit between 1972 and 1977. They filed legal actions against the Crown regarding unacceptable events during their time in the unit, which was closed by 1978.
Helen Clark and Annette King today apologised to the 95 former patients on behalf of the Crown. A personal apology will be conveyed to all claimants with whom settlements have been reached.
"The government came into office determined to resolve the grievances of this group of former patients and we have kept our word,” Helen Clark and Annette King said.
“The people involved were young – some of them children - and many from troubled backgrounds, including wards of the state. Some were sent to the Child and Adolescent Unit primarily because there was nowhere else for them to go.”
The Cabinet agreed last year that a settlement was the most appropriate way for the Crown to deal with this matter, and set aside $6.5 million for that purpose. The Crown paid the sum into the trust account of the claimants’ lawyer on 24 September.
Helen Clark said retired High Court Judge Sir Rodney Gallen had determined how the money was to be allocated among claimants, without Crown involvement. The individual sums are confidential between Sir Rodney and the individual claimants.
"Whatever the legal rights and wrongs of the matter, and whatever the state of medical practice at the time, our government considers that what occurred to these young people was unacceptable by any standard, in particular the inappropriate use of electric shocks and injections.
"The government has now achieved a settlement with the majority of former patients who had brought claims, but there are others who may have been subject to similarly unacceptable events and who have not been part of this settlement.
“Their concerns will be considered as they come forward,” Helen Clark and Annette King said.