Review of low-vision rehabilitation services worthless
16 June 2014
Unethical Conduct by Health Ministry Exposed - Trust Dissociates Itself from Worthless Review
A trust working for the restoration of publicly-funded low vision rehabilitation services is dissociating itself from a Ministry of Health commissioned review of those services.
“We petitioned Parliament about the urgent need for low vision services,” Associate Professor Gordon Sanderson, chair of Visual Impairment Charitable Trust Aotearoa (VICTA) says. “Age related sight loss is increasing. The number of low vision clinics in public hospitals is falling. The Health Select Committee gave us a very good hearing. But all the Ministry came up with was a hasty, poorly designed review. We now know the Ministry was acting on advice from the Blind Foundation.”
Sanderson, a former chair of the Blind Foundation, notes that the Foundation’s constitution was created “by the blind for the blind”. It excludes people with low vision from Foundation membership, and from the Foundation’s charitable services.
VICTA trustee Dr Lynley Hood is exasperated: “Here we have a Ministry that is supposed to be giving the government independent advice on low vision services (and which also happens to be the Ministry that has allowed these services to decline at a time when they are most needed) taking advice from a Foundation that has spent 124 years ignoring or refusing to help people with low vision.”
“We participated in the review in the hope that some good would come of it,” Hood continues. “The contract requires Litmus to conduct the review using sound methodologies. But when Litmus addressed the first objective of the review (“determine the prevalence of people with low vision in New Zealand”) by conducting an opinion poll of stakeholders (“What is your opinion of the prevalence of people with low vision in New Zealand”), it was clear our optimism was misplaced.”
In the interests of transparency, VICTA is releasing evidence provided to the Minister of Health concerning the Ministry’s mishandling of VICTA’s petition.