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Disability inquiry constructive, reveals failings

Paul Hutchison MP
National Party Disability Issues Spokesman

5 September 2008

Disability inquiry constructive but reveals failings

National’s Disability Issues spokesman, Paul Hutchison, is welcoming the findings of a parliamentary inquiry into the quality of care and service provision for people with disabilities, but is worried the report has outlined some shortcomings.

He says the report that was released today says ‘the provision of disability services lacks direction and leadership, services are variable throughout the country, and significant systemic problems have developed unchecked’.

“It has also revealed incidents of abuse, inadequate auditing, poor advocacy, and evidence that the NZ Disability Strategy is being implemented poorly in some areas.

“National instigated the inquiry after reports in 2005 and 2006 of deaths in care facilities, physical abuse of people with disabilities, and the mismanagement of funds.

“Initially, the then-Health Minister, Pete Hodgson, said there was no need for a review, and it took all other parties to agree to the inquiry before Labour offered its support.

“Submitters from all over New Zealand provided evidence of problems, including that people with disabilities were at times afraid to speak out for fear of repercussion. The Health and Disability Commissioner admitted that in his office, health issues often took priority over disability issues.

“In addition, auditing methods were inappropriate. One submitter told of a situation in which a nurse continued to tick the auditing form for days after the patient had died.”

Dr Hutchison says the sector was clear that current funding practice gave little choice to disabled people, and they wanted a greater say. It was also made clear that the carer workforce of more than 30,000 was extremely variable in quality and, in some places, turn-over rates were up to 50%.

“The Social Services Select Committee has worked constructively together with the help of an excellent adviser, Angus Capie. National will consider the report’s recommendations, and if we get into Government, will work towards implementing what is practical with the resources available.”


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