Government back-down on phone assessments of home help

Press Release – New Zealand Labour Party

More than a year after Health Minister Tony Ryall fiercely defended telephone assessments Capital and Coast DHB have finally dumped them, but other DHBs need to follow suit, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Grant Robertson.Government back-down on phone assessments of home help must be nationwide
More than a year after Health Minister Tony Ryall fiercely defended telephone assessments Capital and Coast DHB have finally dumped them, but other DHBs need to follow suit, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Grant Robertson.

“Shortly after National came into office thousands of elderly around the country had their access to home help cut in an effort to save money, many of these people had their home help cut after just a brief phone call,” Grant Robertson said.

“It is great that we have seen this back-down, but Tony Ryall needs to show some leadership and ensure that there will be no telephone assessment anywhere in New Zealand. He also needs to ensure that those elderly who had their home help either cut or stopped as a result of a phone assessment will now be contacted for a face-to-face assessment.

“Receiving telephone calls that resulted in cuts to home help was extremely distressing for many elderly. Many elderly simply didn’t want to go into personal health issues with a complete stranger on the phone and as a result they had their home help cut.

“It was a stupid cost cutting move that had serious consequences for some of those affected.

“Like many MPs I had people come into my office with elderly parents who lost support after a phone call. One of these people, a war veteran, had a serious accident after his home help hours were cut. This should never have happened.”

“Now that Capital and Coast DHB has ditched phone assessments, those who receive home help services are anxious that they will not lose those services, given that the cost of doing face to face assessments will now fall on providers and they have less money than they did last year to deliver the services ($11 million versus $13 million).

“We do not want to see any further cost cutting of home help services and we will be watching very closely to ensure that does not happen,” Grant Robertson said.

Authorised by Grant Robertson, MP, Parliament Buildings, Wellington

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