Govt claims National quietly gutted disability sector

Parents of adults with a mental disability are being forced to call the police for help when their child loses control and care services can't respond.

A critical lack of funding in disability services means some mentally disabled adults have been sleeping in police cells when there was nowhere else for them to go, either due to a lack of facilities or support workers.  

The Government blames National for the shortfall, claiming they quietly stripped money from the disability sector for years.

Budget documents obtained by Newshub Nation confirm that: "Since 2013/14 disability support services has been required to return savings each year through a re-prioritisation process, growing from $28m in 2013 to $50m in 2017."

Associate Health Minister James Shaw told Newshub Nation, "Disability support services was required to return funding and that erased any budget increases that they had, so the total over five years was $199 million.

"So that is why we're getting a whole lot of these horror stories from around the country because they just didn't have the funding to do their job."

National's associate spokesperson for health, Shane Reti, rejects the claims.

"Funding for the national disability support services increased from $880 million in the budget for 2008/09 to $1.208 billion in Budget 2017, a 37 percent increase... We reject the comments in the Budget 2018 documents. As the record shows, we invested hundreds of millions of extra funding into disability support services."

Former Disability Rights Commissioner Paul Gibson told Newshub Nation, "People with learning intellectual disabilities often with some behavioural issues or autism. We're leaving them behind. They are the most vulnerable in our society. And this group is in crisis."

One such vulnerable Kiwi is Becky, who will be 35 this year but due to a severe form of epilepsy, has a mental age of a preschooler.

Her mother, Jan Moss, is turning 70 and she says caring for Becky safely has become "impossible".

"She's just too big for me she's about five-foot eight (1.72m) and weighs about 105kg, so when she she's having big seizures epileptic seizures or things that are incredibly difficult for me, well in fact it's impossible now for me to support her."

When Becky was recently admitted to hospital, she was held down by eight security guards after becoming frightened.

"That's the only way that they felt that they could manage it and really all she was was incredibly frightened and anxious because I wasn't there."

Ms Moss is calling for the Government to create specialised units of health workers to respond to incidents involving mentally disabled adults.

Newshub Nation.

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