Historic abuse claims

The Ministry of Health administers claims relating to allegations of abuse in state-run psychiatric facilities prior to 1 July 1993. Such abuse includes allegations of physical abuse, sexual abuse or treatment used as punishment (such as ECT or solitary confinement) while in care.

If you suffered abuse while in care, the Ministry of Health can review this matter, and in appropriate cases, will provide an apology where there may be evidence of a legitimate basis for a claim and may also provide a wellbeing payment to you on an ex gratia basis.


In 2005, Confidential Forum for Former In-Patients of Psychiatric Hospitals was established. This was succeeded by the Confidential Listening and Assistance Service in 2008 and the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care was established in 2018. Participants in the Forum, the Service and the Inquiry highlighted abuse that they had suffered while in care in state-run psychiatric hospitals and facilities.

Claims Process

The Ministry’s Historic Abuse Resolution Service provides a means that the experiences of patients can be acknowledged and to assist to ensure that they are not repeated.
In order for the Ministry to assess your claim you will need to contact us, providing what further details you can about your experiences and the abuse you suffered while in care, including supporting information where possible (such as medical records, dates, hospitals, staff names, allegations of wrong doing). You do not need a lawyer to work with us. You can seek legal advice at any stage if you wish.

You will also need to provide the Ministry with approval to request further information (such as obtaining your medical files from any District Health Board). The Ministry will provide you with an authorisation form for this.

The Ministry will assess your claim based on the information available (acknowledging that records may no longer be available in some cases), and if satisfied, will provide you with an offer for an apology and a wellbeing payment on an ex gratia basis (if appropriate). If you accept the offer, the Ministry will issue a letter of apology and organise any payment.

Once any records are received from a District Health Board, the timeframe for processing a request is usually 4 to 6 weeks, and we will contact you with the outcome of the review and any offer of resolution. Acceptance of any offer will be in full and final settlement of any claim against the Crown for treatment by Area Health Boards prior to 1993.

All information provided to the Ministry will be maintained in confidence and used only for the purpose of assessing your claim. This may include provision of information to any expert advisors used by the Ministry to assist the assessment process.


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