Disabled Person’s Assembly would prefer central hospital

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Access to the new Dunedin Hospital – when it is built – will be a crucial issue for disabled people across the region, a Dunedin disability advocate says.

The Disabled Person’s Assembly kaituitui/community networker for Dunedin, Chris Ford, said issues for disabled people were broad and ranged from access to healthcare to housing, education, the physical and built environment and communication.

“Where the issues arise for us as disabled people is when our impairments interact with the attitudes of other people or our environments – that creates the disability,” Mr Ford said.

Issues such as poverty – and its associated impact on health – were a major challenge for disabled people, who faced additional barriers to gaining employment.

“In accessing healthcare, many people with learning disabilities face real barriers and challenges, not only in terms of cost, but also being able to communicate with specialists,” Mr Ford said.

It was vital that a rebuilt Dunedin Hospital remained in the central city to give disabled people access to transport and mobility parking.

“We feel that health services should be accessible to us, from primary care through to hospital care.

“There are barriers that are physical, in terms of building access, but also in terms of attitudes of medical and allied health staff.

“It is important to improve the disability responsiveness of health services.”

In his networker role, Mr Ford highlights issues affecting disabled people with the Southern DHB, councils and government agencies.

The DPA is running an Access Alliance campaign, which aims to improve mandated accessibility standards under legislation, and is calling for all parties to come together.

“Improved accessibility standards are crucial in ensuring that services are available to all,” Mr Ford said.