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Health Minister isolated by select cmttee decision

Dr Paul Hutchison
National Party Disability Issues Spokesman

17 May 2006

Health Minister isolated by select committee decision

Parliament’s social services select committee will conduct an inquiry into the quality of care and service provision for people with disabilities, despite Health Minister Pete Hodgson’s repeated comments that one is not needed.

National’s Disability Issues spokesman, Dr Paul Hutchison, says Mr Hodgson has clearly been in denial that there is need for an inquiry into the wider sector and not just Focus 2000, which faced allegations of abuse, neglect and deaths as well as million dollar payments for no services.

“The problem is not just confined to Focus 2000. There continue to be widespread concerns about service provision within the disability services sector. Major problems with other providers will inevitably emerge. We must be most concerned with individual quality of life.

“People within the sector itself are saying there are ‘deep systemic problems’.

“I was pleased to have the support of United Future and the Greens for this inquiry, as well as the Labour Party members of the select committee, who clearly did not agree with Mr Hodgson’s dogmatic views.”

Dr Hutchison has worked with the sector to draft proposed terms of reference for the inquiry.

“I hope this will be a constructive, in depth attempt to improve the quality of care and quality of life for people with disabilities.”

Attached: Proposed terms of reference

Inquiry into the quality of care and services provision for people with disabilities

Reason for the Inquiry
Concerns have been raised over poor quality of care, abuse, neglect and poor fiscal management by the disability service provider Focus 2000. The Minister of Health has ordered a series of audits into Focus 2000, but reports of major problems within the wider disability service sector are evident. For example - it was revealed in an audit that Spectrum Care, another major provider, has one house where five intellectually disabled men who are non-verbal and have complex support needs, are living and being looked after by poorly paid untrained caregivers.

The Assistant Health and Disability Commissioner, Tania Thomas, says -“the majority of concerns are about the total lack of respect and the poor attitude of providers”.

Lorna Sullivan, executive member of the Disabled Persons Assembly says - “we’ve got a deep systemic problem – very vulnerable people are living in the most compromised of circumstances in this country, and have nobody to speak for them”.

______________________________________

Social Services Committee
The Social Services Select Committee is appropriate to hold the inquiry as the Ministry for Social Development funds the Office for Disability Issues. There is clear overlap with other Ministries and entities such as Health and ACC who fund disability service provision.

_____________________________________

Terms of Reference
- Does the New Zealand government ensure the wellbeing, rights and care of disabled people are upheld as paramount considerations in service provision?
- Is monitoring being carried out in the most effective way to ensure quality of care of individual disabled people in New Zealand?
- Is quality of training, career structure and conditions for the disability workforce of adequate standard in New Zealand?
- Is the present certification process a meaningful way of ensuring that service providers give people with disabilities a good quality of life?
- Are the national standards of care being properly implemented and evaluated?
- Is the current understanding of quality as determined by the standards appropriate to the function of supporting valued lives for disabled people?
- Does a better mechanism for complaints need to be developed, particularly for the most vulnerable?
- Has New Zealand achieved appropriate models of care provision and is there a need for greater choice?
- Has the Minister and Ministry of Health and Minister for Disability Issues, failed to take appropriate action over Focus 2000 and Spectrum Care Trust and also to correct ‘systemic failure’ within the disability system?
- Has there been a failure of collaboration and information sharing between the Ministry of Health and Office for Disability Issues and their respective Ministers?
- Is the New Zealand Disability Strategy being upheld?

ENDS

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