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Not Transforming Health: Disability Health faces a transdisciplinary disaster

Joint Media Release with Hon Kelly Vincent MLC

“The Government’s plan to close the Centre for Disability Health (CDH) is an absolute outrage and will take gaping system failure to crisis point,” says Dignity for Disability MLC Kelly Vincent.

“To shut down the only health clinic in South Australia that treats people who are only able to communicate through their behaviour is a grave mistake and will result in the denial of people with disabilities’ right to holistic quality healthcare.

“The Centre is also the only clinic in Australia that teaches medical professionals to respect and respond to patients who cannot communicate verbally, nor through sign language. The specific knowledge that health professionals working at, and with, the CDH have is incredibly specialised. To close it with no plan in place and suggest the stalled roll out of the NDIS in this state is going to solve healthcare issues is beyond delirious.

“Mainstream services within health continually refer patients with complex health and disability needs to the CDH – where will they go now? There is nothing else of its kind in South Australia, and we will lose all the clinical expertise that has been developed over several decades,” concluded Ms Vincent.

“South Australians with disability already face grave hurdles to access appropriate support and treatment through mainstream health services,” says Stephen Wade, Liberal Shadow Minister for Health.

“It is totally unacceptable for the Government to threaten to withdraw any specialist health services for people with disability before the implications of the NDIS are fully unpacked and a plan is in place to ensure people with disability can access the same health care as other South Australians.

“At a time when the Government claims that Transforming Health will improve the efficient use of hospital beds, withdrawing support to disability health is bizarrely short-sighted. Unless health and disability services integrate effectively, people with disabilities will spend longer in hospital than they need to at huge cost to both patients and taxpayers.

“This decision will particularly impact on patients travelling from country SA – this is another blow to regional South Australians that already face a dearth of health services in their regions,” concluded Mr Wade.