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October 2020

In this issue:

New Commissioner Morag McDowell
The Mental Health Commissioner's final monitoring and advocacy report
Trends in focus: Delays in ED care
Profile: youth and Pacific disability advocate Jordon Milroy
Mārama Real Time Feedback moves to the Ministry
COVID-19 complaint trends

Welcome to the new HDC newsletter

Kia ora koutou

As the new Health and Disability Commissioner, I’m pleased to launch this newsletter, which aims to share news and issues of interest with the health, social and government sector.

I took office as the Health and Disability Commissioner on 7 September 2020. At the outset I would like to acknowledge and thank Anthony Hill for his service in the role of Commissioner this past decade. I look forward to leading HDC on the next phase of its journey, continuing to promote and protect the rights of health and disability consumers, and forging new and key relationships as I do so.

It is certainly an interesting and challenging time to join the organisation, with the COVID-19 health crisis still making a huge impact in New Zealand and around the world. Unsurprisingly, the HDC has received a number of COVID-19 related complaints and in this issue, we share some of the key trends and themes we are finding, together with how we have raised issues of equity and patient safety relating to these complaints with the Ministry of Health.

We also share the Mental Health Commissioner’s report on mental health and addiction services, in which he calls on the Ministry of Health to deliver a clear plan of action by the end of the year to deliver on the transformational approach set out in He Ara Oranga. It is exciting that Aotearoa New Zealand has the opportunity to provide global leadership in the mental health space, with the collective response to supporting wellbeing during the pandemic response showing just what is possible to achieve when there is a will.

I am fully committed to considering issues of equity as HDC performs its core functions. This requires, among other things, that HDC ensures that its processes are accessible to, and appropriate for, consumers. HDC’s Consumer Advisory Group (CAG) plays a vital role here, as a "sounding board" for our work. CAG members are selected for their ability to highlight health and disability service consumer concerns from their communities. The current group includes representatives from the aged care, youth, disability, Māori, Pacific, mental health and health sectors. For the newsletter, we have interviewed the newest CAG member Jordon Milroy, a Youth and Pacific Advocate at the Cerebral Palsy Society.

Our focus topic in this issue is delays in Emergency Department care. Over the last year, HDC has closed five investigations in which a DHB was found in breach for delays in ED. We share two of our investigations that reflect the key themes we see in these complaints.

I hope you find the newsletter an interesting and informative read. We would love to hear your feedback – if there’s something you’d like to share please email
Morag McDowell, Health and Disability Commissioner

Mental Health Commissioner’s report on mental health and addiction services

The Mental Health Commissioner Kevin Allan recently released his final independent assessment of the state of mental health and addiction services in Aotearoa New Zealand. The report draws on complaints made to HDC about mental health and addiction services, feedback from tāngata whaiora and their whānau, engagement with many different people in the sector, and system and service performance measures.

Mr Allan found that there is significant hope for transformational system change as set by He Ara Oranga (the report of the Independent Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction). The Government is making a promising start, but there is more required to gain traction...

Delays in Emergency Department care

Emergency departments (EDs) are one of the most common DHB services complained about, with around 12% of complaints about DHBs relating to ED care. Delays are an increasingly common feature of these complaints.

Over the last year, HDC has closed 5 investigations in which a DHB was found in breach of the Code relating to delays in EDs. Common issues identified on assessment of complaints about ED delays include: inadequate staffing; patient flow issues and integration of ED with the rest of the hospital; incorrect triage categorisation; and inadequate systems to manage periods of high demand or high acuity.

Profile: disability advocate Jordon Milroy

Jordon Milroy is the newest member of the HDC’s Consumer Advisory Group (CAG), which provides representative consumer advice to HDC on strategic and operational health and disability issues. He will attend his first CAG meeting in the coming months. Jordon is the Youth and Pacific Advocate for the Cerebral Palsy Society, and has lived experience of growing up with a disability in the Pacific community.

HDC to transfer stewardship of Mārama Real Time Feedback to MOH

HDC is pleased to announce that it will transfer stewardship of the Mārama Real Time Feedback tool to the Ministry of Health from February next year.

Mārama is an important tool for capturing the real time experiences and voices of people engaging with mental health and addiction services. The transfer of its stewardship to the Ministry will enable its ongoing development and the amplification of that voice through integration with other national datasets and initiatives.

COVID-19 related complaints

Between 3 February 2020 (when HDC received its first COVID-19 related complaint) and 31 August 2020, HDC received 183 complaints about COVID-19 related issues. This equates to around 13% of all complaints received by HDC in that time period. These complaints are being carefully monitored for patterns and trends...


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