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Disabled Must Be Priority For Next Government

Media Release

5 September 2008

Disabled Must Be Priority For Next Government

A priority for the next government must be better outcomes for the disabled says New Zealand First’s health spokesperson Barbara Stewart.

“The fact that the intellectually disabled have a life expectancy 20 years lower than the general population and a very high level of undiagnosed medical conditions is bad enough. That these factors are further aggravated by poor communication skills and poverty gives us even more cause for shame as a society, said Mrs Stewart.

“The present Ministers of Health and Disability Issues are looking at what measures can be undertaken to ensure that people with intellectual disabilities have equitable access to health services.

“Whoever is in charge after the election should be promising right now that whatever the result these issues will not be put back in the too hard basket.

“Another cause for concern is that since the disestablishment of hospitals such as Kimberley intellectual disability nurses are no longer trained in New Zealand and we rely on imported staff from countries which still train registered intellectual disability nurses, such as the United Kingdom and Ireland.

“This shortage obviously adversely affects the welfare of the approximately 45,000 adults and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities in our communities and is something else the Ministers of Health and Disability Issues in the next government will need to deal with as a matter of urgency,” said Mrs Stewart.


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