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Submission to New Zealand Health and Disability System Review

In August 2018, The Minister of Health, Dr David Clark announced a wide-ranging review designed to future-proof our health and disability services.

As part of the feedback process, CCS Disability Action submitted to the Health and Disability System Review. We also contributed to and endorse the submission of the Child Poverty Action Group.

Executive Summary

  • Disabled people are at high-risk of poor health and wellbeing outcomes, and are often high-users of the health and disability system.
  • Disabled people are more likely to rate their general health status lower than non-disabled people.
  • The average life expectancy for adults with learning disabilities is significantly lower than non-disabled adults.
  • New Zealand has an ageing population which will result in a higher number of people with disabilities.
  • Unequal resourcing can result in inequality between cultural groups.
  • There is a tendency to treat the Health and Disability system as separate from other systems, including disability-related income support and allowances.
  • There is significant disparity in support given to those disabled due to an accident, and those who are not. ACC provides substantially more support that is unavailable to disabled people whose disability was not the result of an accident.
  • Disabled people are rarely included in discussions surrounding mental health and wellbeing. There is significant evidence that disabled people are at increased risk of poor mental wellbeing outcomes.
  • Young people with disabilities are at particular risk of poor mental wellbeing outcomes, and are three times more likely to develop a diagnosable psychiatric disorder compared to their non-disabled peers.
  • There are well established links between poverty and poor mental wellbeing outcomes.


  • There must be clearer links between systems and departments, with improved communication and cooperation.
  • We recommend that within the guiding principles listed that a disability specific principle is included; Disabled people receive empowering, equitable and effective healthcare.
  • We would expect that by 2030 that not only the self-rating of general health status would improve across the board, but that life expectancies of people with disabilities would increase.
  • By 2030, the health and disability system will be an inclusive environment, where people are able to meaningfully participate and play an active role in their healthcare.
  • Where possible, we recommend that primary and community healthcare be utilised.
  • Investigate and address access issues for disabled Pasefika with Disability Support Services.
  • Reduce the disparity of support between those disabled by accidents and those who are not. There should be no difference in the support (financial or otherwise) available to those with disabilities, support available must be equally and easily accessible to all.
  • People must be supported to be able to contribute and participate in decisions that affect them.
  • We recommend that the MidCentral DHB Clinical nursing and learning disability initiative is implemented nationwide, and that staff are undergo inclusivity training to ensure they have the skills to work effectively and appropriately with disabled people.
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