12 September 2011 • Media Releases

Media Release - Health Indicators for New Zealanders wth Intellectual Disability

Te Ao Māramatanga The New Zealand College of Mental Health Nurses is alarmed at the significant health disparities between those with intellectual disability and the wider population in New Zealand, as evidenced in a recent report from the Ministry of Health.

While acknowledging that some people with intellectual disability are predisposed to certain health conditions, that data does not account for the consistently poor health among this client group.

Stigma and discrimination are a major challenge for people with mental illness and the College is extremely concerned about the similar impact on people with intellectual disability, in terms of accessing appropriate health care.

The College has previously communicated its concerns about the need for specific training on intellectual disability to be included in all health professional education, to the Ministry and to the Nursing Council of New Zealand.

“Whilst we are celebrating our country and focusing attention on the Rugby World Cup, it is timely to remember the needs of a particularly vulnerable population” states Bernadette Päus, Nurse Practitioner in Mental Health and Intellectual Disability.

The lack of training is evidenced in a nationwide shortage of specialist staff, with an increasing reliance on overseas-trained staff.

The College calls upon the Ministry of Health and the Minister of Health to: 1) develop an action plan to address these appalling indicators and to create a forum with health professional groups & regulatory bodies to address workforce issues, and 2), to ensure that all health professionals receive training and education from undergraduate level through to post graduate level in working and addressing the health needs of people with Intellectual disability. We cannot allow this to continue.