Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Health responds to Ombudsman’s report

The Ministry of Health has welcomed recommendations from the Chief Ombudsman regarding the care of people with an intellectual disability.

The Ombudsman has been investigating the High and Complex Framework since early 2019.

The investigation centred primarily on the shortage of specialist hospital accommodation and the conditions in which some people are being accommodated.

“We accept the Ombudsman’s recommendations in this report,” says the Ministry’s Director-General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield.

“It’s been important to the Ministry to cooperate with this investigation and assist where we can.

“We’ve taken time to review this report and the Ombudsman’s recommendations. The Ministry has always been committed to protecting the rights of people supported by the Framework and improving their quality of care.

“We do acknowledge there have been and are concerns around capacity in parts of the country and we are working closely with providers to find solutions.”

The Ministry has had a dedicated work programme under way for some time that addresses the issues identified in the report. Since 2018 the Ministry has:

  • allocated an additional $1.7 million per annum for hospital-based services and $5 million per annum for community providers, which will help to boost community capacity and relieve pressure on hospital-level services in the long term;
  • secured five additional beds at the Mason Clinic in Auckland;
  • secured funding for a new purpose-built six-bed secure mental health/ID facility (due to open later this year).

“The Ombudsman noted the Ministry is taking ‘more substantial steps’ towards an ongoing solution. We identified the need in 2018 to do this, as part of our stewardship role. We’re committed to incorporating the Ombudsman’s recommendations into that ongoing programme of work.

“Work also includes developing a strategic plan; a review of reporting, data and contractual requirements for Framework services; ensuring the maintenance of security requirements; and defining outcomes in accordance with the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

“As the steward of New Zealand’s disability support sector, our priority is to continue to work closely with DHBs and NGO providers to identify short, medium and long-term goals for the Framework and then deliver on those goals to ensure that service users who are referred by the courts are accommodated in appropriate facilities.

“We will also be regularly updating our progress to the Ombudsman,” says Dr Bloomfield.

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