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Evidence Mounts Of The Need For Urgent Funding Of Providers

The looming closure of the Laura Fergusson Trust homes appears to be another symptom of the chronic underfunding of providers, the New Zealand Disability Support Network said today.

“This just adds to the mounting evidence of a system in crisis,” said NZDSN Chief Executive Garth Bennie.

The Laura Fergusson Trust, which provides rehabilitation and respite care for hundreds of people and their families, will close its centres in Whanganui, Waikato and Auckland by August this year due to lack of funding. Some 250 people are being forced to find other centres for their care.

“While I can’t comment on the specifics of this case as the trust is not a member of our network, I do know that on the face of it, this is just another sad example of the broken financial model for providers.

“The ongoing struggles of providers is having real consequences for the thousands of vulnerable people and their families and carers who depend on these facilities.

“The Ministry of Health told media last week that it was hearing the concerns of providers and was willing to work with them to find solutions. But its comments are just paying lip service to the seriousness of the funding crisis.

“It’s true we are in constant dialogue with the Ministry, but the message isn’t getting through and we know more and more providers are having to refuse referrals of clients, and wind down programmes just to stay afloat.

“As we have said loud and clear for some time now, funding increases by successive Governments have just not kept pace with rising costs, expanding demand and the growing complexity of needs that have to be met. Pay equity settlements and the need to safeguard relativities for staff have added to the cost burden many providers are facing,” said Dr Bennie.

The 2020 Sector Briefing Report – Enabling Good Lives Sooner Rather Than Later estimated that to properly fund the disability service system today, the Government needed to inject $574 million into the sector’s annual budget.

“This may sound like a lot of money and we are not asking for it in one lump sum, but real progress needs to be made in this year’s Budget or there could be more failures of providers.

“The Government has the money. Just last week it was willing to invest billions of dollars into new roads to help Kiwis’ everyday journeys – we are just asking for a long overdue uplift in funding so the journey of the most vulnerable people in our society is a little easier.

“Thousands of disabled people, their families and providers will be hoping their well-being is seen as a priority as well,” said Dr Bennie.

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