Watchdog criticises HSE for treatment of people with disabilities

HSE deems it ‘risky or not necessary’ for people with disabilities to make choices – Gath

Leigh  Gath, the HSE’s Confidential Recipient, said the lack of communication between the HSE and her office was a major problem. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Leigh Gath, the HSE’s Confidential Recipient, said the lack of communication between the HSE and her office was a major problem. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

A HSE watchdog has criticised the health services for regularly denying people with a disability any role in decisions about the care provided to them.

The HSE’s Confidential Recipient, Leigh Gath, said some people had complained they were threatened with having equipment or supports removed or reduced if they insisted on having a say about the care provided to them by the health services.

Ms Gath claimed the HSE often adopted a medical approach to the provision of services for people with a disability when a model of social care was needed, which would allow for greater inclusiveness in decision-making.

She said such an issue was brought to her attention many times last year.

“In some instances [people] are apparently being forced to use their supports or equipment as the HSE sees fit,” Ms Gath said.

In her latest annual report, Ms Gath expressed concern that people with disabilities were not being allowed a choice in their lives because the HSE deemed it “risky or not necessary”.

“The concerns I have seen on this are coming from adults with physical and/or sensory disabilities who are capable of making their own decisions,” Ms Gath said.

“These people have told me of feeling that there has been an unreasonable effort to control them, and when they have not complied, some people have apparently been threatened that use of equipment or support hours will be either reduced or withdrawn,” she added.

Lack of communication

Ms Gath said another major issue was the lack of communication between the HSE and her office which impacted on her ability to assist people who had raised concerns.

Figures show the HSE responded to cases notified by the Confidential Recipient within 15 days as required in only 53 per cent of complaints last year. The report shows a total of 206 formal complaints or concerns were recorded last year – an increase of 10 on 2017 figures.

Almost 70 per cent of cases related to issues with disability services. She said a recurring theme among 130 cases relating to care issues last year were funding limits for services and difficulties faced by families accessing respite.