Still no action on HMP psych service

Citizens’ Rep blasts provincial government over problems

James McLeod jmcleod@thetelegram.com
Published on November 24, 2011
Her Majesty’s Penitentiary  — 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

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