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Investigations into MoH and services for people with intellectual disabilities

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier has launched investigations into the Ministry of Health’s oversight of facilities and services for intellectually disabled people with high and complex needs [1].

Mr Boshier says the ability of the Ministry to resource, coordinate and plan services will come under the microscope.

‘I will consider the capacity of the health system to meet the needs of some of society’s most vulnerable people.’

‘I am aware at times there is a shortage of beds. This has meant some people have faced lengthy delays before being assessed as ordered by the courts. I will also consider whether some have been unlawfully detained in prison or other unsuitable places because there has been nowhere else for them to go.’

The Ministry contracts five District Health Boards to provide forensic intellectual disability services. The DHBs provide around 66 secure hospital beds nationwide.

‘My investigation will look at whether the facilities are adequate for those referred by the courts for assessment as well as for long-term clients, women and youth. I will also look at how much workforce planning is being done to make sure there are enough appropriately trained staff.’

Mr Boshier says he is conducting a separate investigation into the quality of the data collected by the Ministry relating to the deaths of intellectually disabled people in forensic and residential care.

‘I consider that obtaining good quality data is essential to understanding where the pressure points are and for reviewing systems of care. I want to ensure that the Ministry is collecting enough information about these deaths to identify whether any improvements can be made.’

The investigations reflect the Ombudsman’s role in protecting and monitoring disability rights in New Zealand, and contributing to systemic improvement by investigating public sector administration and decision-making.

‘The investigations are being conducted under the Ombudsmen Act. I will also be taking the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities into account. Under the Convention, I have a role in ensuring that disability rights are protected and monitored.’

While Mr Boshier will not be carrying out a general public consultation, the investigations will include site visits and one on one interviews with clients in the secure facilities, their families/ whānau, as well as officials, medical professionals and other stakeholders. People who wish to raise concerns about their individual circumstances can continue to do so at:

The investigation relating to data around deaths of people with intellectual disabilities in residential and forensic care will be completed in the second half of 2019. The investigation into facilities and services for intellectually disabled people with high and complex needs is planned for completion in the first half of 2020.

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