SA hospitals slammed
South Australian public hospitals have been accused of failing to deliver appropriate and acceptable care to patients with disabilities.
SA Health and Community Services Complaints Commissioner Grant Davies has reviewed seven cases of disability discrimination in public hospitals between 2015 and 2017.
The investigation reportedly found common issues around consent, attitudes of hospital staff and difficulty communicating with people with disabilities, their guardians and carers.
In 2018, Commissioner Davies called for disability health plans be implemented at all major South Australian hospitals. This work is still in progress.
Now, Commissioner Davies has found SA Health breached standards and guidelines in some aspects of the care provided.
“I find the systemic delivery of acute services by SA Health hospitals to people with disabilities to be in breach of the HCSCC [Health and Community Services Complaints Commissioner] charter's five guiding principles and three of the rights, namely diversity, decision-making capacity and genuine partnership,” he said.
The Central Adelaide Local Health Network (CALHN), which runs the Royal Adelaide and Queen Elizabeth hospitals, has reportedly developed a disability access and inclusion plan, but the other local health networks do not appear to have done the same.
“Clearly systemic improvement takes time and I will be monitoring their progress,” he said.
“Given the seriousness … I'll have a continued interest until those policies and procedures are implemented.
“I would expect to see substantial progress by the department by December this year.”
SA Health says it has accepted the findings from the report.
“Since the investigation concluded, we have already addressed a number of the issues raised within the report,” the statement said.
“This includes establishing a borderline personality disorder clinic, developing the NDIS discharge pilot to streamline the discharge processes for patients receiving NDIS support, and implementing the Centre for Disability Health to support people with intellectual disability.
“Work is also underway on developing disability access and inclusion plans for all our entities, which will be undertaken in consultation with people with disabilities.
“We are committed to ensuring all people with disability have full and equitable access to health services, resources, decision-making, information and facilities when they are in our care.”