Still no action on HMP psych service

James
James McLeod
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Citizens’ Rep blasts provincial government over problems

Her Majesty’s Penitentiary sits alongside Quidi Vidi Lake. A plethora of complaints about the psychiatrist who handles the mental health issues and treatment of inmates has prompted a call for the removal of Dr. David Craig from his position. — Telegram file photo

Citizens’ Representative Barry Fleming renewed his call for action on psychiatric services at Her Majesty’s Penitentiary in his annual report, released Wednesday.

More specifically, he said Department of Justice psychiatrist Dr. David Craig has got to go.

Fleming said Craig has an extremely conservative stance on the use of psychiatric drugs. When inmates get to Her Majesty’s Penitentiary (HMP) they are often taken off medications that have been prescribed by other psychiatrists.

“We’ve done what we could in terms of investigating this matter, and we’ve made recommendations, but we still get complaints from HMP about inmates who are being weaned off psychiatric medications which have been prescribed by duly licenced psychiatrists and physicians in the community,” Fleming said. “Somebody with diabetes doesn’t have their insulin weaned off.”

The issues with Craig have been publicly known since a 2008 report into the province’s prison system questioned his methods.

In March, Fleming issued a report on Craig, based on a raft of complaints from inmates.

After initially dismissing the report, Justice Minister Felix Collins ordered a peer review of Craig’s service. Reached for comment Wednesday, Collins said that review is still ongoing.

“I’m reluctant to tell you anything except for the fact that it’s ongoing, and the time lines depend on a number of variables that are specific to this particular review. I don’t think it would prudent for me to go into details on that,” Collins said. “All I can say, is that the review is ongoing and what the review will address at the end of the day, we’ll wait and see.”

Opposition politicians weren’t satisfied with the time it’s taking.

“Given how long this has been in the works, and how long this department has known about it, I think that they’ve had plenty of time,” Liberal justice critic Andrew Parsons said. “From what I gather, the good doctor is down there doing the same old things. Nothing has changed. They get different treatment than what we would get outside.”

NDP critic Gerry Rogers said if Craig isn’t properly treating inmates’ mental health issues, it challenges their ability to be rehabilitated.

“Inmates are among our most vulnerable populations in some ways, in that many many many inmates have mental health problems,” she said.“Our prison systems are for rehabilitation, and if inmates don’t get appropriate and proper mental health services and treatment, then that’s going to be a problem when they come out as well.”

jmcleod@thetelegram.com

Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: Department of Justice

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Recent comments

  • inthecommunity
    November 24, 2011 - 22:52

    there have been many allegations against Dr.Craig, and not just from inmates, but from persons who work with those inmates. Dr,Craig needs to respect the relationship and diagnosis and treatment plans of existing dr's in the community who have relationships established with said persons. I've personally seen and heard the devastation of those who are either weened off or taken of their psychiatric medication. Shame on felix Collins for initially dismissing the report, but hopefully through this investigation some action can be taken to remove Dr.Craig from treating inmates at the pen, which is something that both the inmates and those who support inmates in the community have wanted for many years.

  • Dave
    November 24, 2011 - 20:53

    Who is this citizens rep? He's whining about inmates being taken off drugs? Way to go Dr. Craig, you are doing something for society. You have amazing courage to have the integrity to undo the harm that other doctors have done. If government should be looking at anyones job its definitely the job of the citizen's rep. Fleming needs to go bury his head back in the sand.

    • Randy
      November 26, 2011 - 10:02

      Great comment Dave...well thought out and really informed. Bet you've read that report cover to cover haven't you Dave. All full of sticky notes and tape flags.

  • BILLY E
    November 24, 2011 - 12:51

    FELIX COLLINS WILL HIDE IN THE CORNER WHEN THEHE IS ANOTHER DEATH AT H. M.P. LOTS OF BELL'S RING .with Dr. CRAIG HIS ON TWO MINDS ONE GONE LOOKING FOR OTHER. JUSTICE WILL GO BROKE.

    • Frozen Hoser
      November 24, 2011 - 23:29

      Billy E - First, take off your caps lock, secondly, get someone to look over your post before you submit it. Thanks.....

  • ISDC
    November 24, 2011 - 12:45

    Dr. Craig is an outstanding psychiatrist. I have seen far too many people taking psych meds which create more problems than they help. My best friend hit rock bottom before she was finally seen by Dr. Craig. But for him I think she would have stayed in a very depressed state and continued to experience multiple side effects from her many medications. She is now happy, healthy and on one drug to control her depression. Too bad there aren't more psychiatrists like Dr. Craig who want to help their patients instead of throwing pills at them to get them out of the office.

    • dlba
      November 24, 2011 - 15:03

      I agree Dr. Craig is an outstanding psychiatrist. I believe in the less medications prescribed, the better approach. Ive been on shopping list of meds in the past, not able to function. Now I am on minimium medication and doing very well. ""Liberal justice critic Andrew Parsons said. “From what I gather, the good doctor is down there doing the same old things. Nothing has changed. They get different treatment than what we would get outside.” Mr Parsons, people with mi who are in prison would get the same treatment from Dr. Craig outside of prision as they would inside of it. He provides quality care for ppl with mi.

    • dlba
      November 24, 2011 - 15:05

      I agree Dr. Craig is an outstanding psychiatrist. I believe in the less medications prescribed, the better approach. Ive been on shopping list of meds in the past, not able to function. Now I am on minimium medication and doing very well. ""Liberal justice critic Andrew Parsons said. “From what I gather, the good doctor is down there doing the same old things. Nothing has changed. They get different treatment than what we would get outside.” Mr Parsons, people with mi who are in prison would get the same treatment from Dr. Craig outside of prision as they would inside of it. He provides quality care for ppl with mi.

  • Joseph McGrath
    November 24, 2011 - 08:54

    I could not care less if those cons get physo drugs or not.They are getting medical attention which is a lot more than some people in NL. If you are a convicted criminal then do the time and I for one am glad government is tightening the screws on our legal system to make sure you do more.

    • Chantal
      November 24, 2011 - 11:02

      until they move next door to you.

    • RUTH E. HILL
      November 24, 2011 - 22:14

      Judge not- Unless you are a qualified MD with a specialty in psychiatry. I agree with serving time, but, to refuse to medicate a patient that has psych. issues is not only stupid but dangerous and in the end could cost health care many more $$'s

    • MB
      November 27, 2011 - 07:18

      A family member had been diagnosed with mi almost thirty years ago. Her then doctor prescribed numerous drugs and electric shock treatments. She spent more time in St. Clare's and the Health Sciences in the next fifteen to twenty years than she did at home. Realizing no progress was being made in her treatment the family decided to ask Dr. Craig for a second opinion on her condition and I can assure you we certainly glad we did. Dr. Craig took her off the list of medications she had been taking and there was no talk of shock treatment again. Yes she spent some time at St Clare's while she was being taken off the list of drugs she had been prescribed by the previous doctor. Since Dr. Craig took over her health care she is on one medication, she has not been hospitalized for a number of years and is a contributing member of society having held a job for four years, she lives in her own home. Our family cannot thank Dr. Craig enough..he changed her life completely and I might add also that our whole family has a better quality of life.....THANKS DR. CRAIG.

  • Bridget Ryan
    November 24, 2011 - 08:44

    I agree with Felix Collins that Dr. Craig should not be removed until after the review. HOWEVER, I think that a temporary replacement should be made in the interim. As a society that should be socially conscious, we have to worry about the effect that the delay is having on the inmates, most of whom suffer from some form of mental illness. And for the ones that are not socially conscious, you should worry about the effect this will have on the behaviour of the inmates after they are released without proper treatment.

  • Observer
    November 24, 2011 - 07:42

    I can't speak for all cases, but I for one. I had a very good friend who wasn't in a minute's trouble for his full 50 years. Then, one thing after another, saw him thrown into the whole prison/mental system. I watched as he was pumped full of drugs and was not himself in any way. Dr. Craig saved his life. He took away all the drugs and observed what he had to deal with. My friend should not have been on drugs, it's clear to see NOW. He says himself that he owes his whole life to Dr. Craig's approach vs. the drug-pusher doctors. If not for Dr. Craig's actions, my friend would be locked up forever due to drug-induced behavior. Just sayin'.