Nearly 140 NDIS patients were occupying desperately needed hospital beds in South Australia last month despite “no health reason to be there”, a parliamentary committee heard last week.
The committee was also told that 69 of these NDIS clients had been approved for discharge more than 100 days earlier, but a lack of specialist disability accommodation prevented their discharge.
The figures were detailed by Lois Boswell, chief executive of the state government’s Department of Social Services, who raised several concerns with the committee about the operation of the NDIS.
She said there was a “systems divide” with federal and state governments coordinating hospital discharges, saying NDIS clients seeking discharge faced “complex NDIA processes and long” and “limited accommodation options”.
Boswell also said processes for expediting hospital discharges were smoother when the state government ran both disability services and hospitals.
“There were disability coordinators in hospitals in the state system whose role was to try to coordinate,” she said.
“There is more money [with the NDIS]yet we seem to be in a worse situation.
“I think it’s because the push that exists when you have a system that talks to itself, health and disability, both state run, is a very different kind of pressure…so there’s the NDIS as a largely transactional system. ”
But in response to questions about Boswell’s submission, an NDIA spokesperson sought to highlight the state government’s role in the hospital bed block issue.
“Drivers of hospital discharge delays are complex and often involve issues outside of the NDIS, including services provided by the state and territory government, such as access to rehabilitation and palliative care, housing and homelessness services, community mental health services and justice support,” the spokesperson said.
“The NDIA meets weekly with Department of South Africa health and social care officials to work on individual cases, and is committed to working with individuals as soon as we are made aware that they are medically ready for release.”
The spokesperson also pointed to the agency’s initiatives to expedite hospital discharges, such as dedicated NDIA discharge teams and “streamlined” scheduling approval processes for NDIS clients at the hospital. ‘hospital.
“The NDIS Minister, the Honorable Bill Shorten, made it clear at his first meeting of Disability Reform Ministers last month that the safe and timely discharge from hospital of NDIS participants who are medically ready is a priority,” the spokesperson said.
“Minister Shorten and his state and territory counterparts directed officials to work together as a priority to develop a strategy for agreement at the next Disability Reform Ministers’ meeting in July to improve safe exit and rapid response of participants to the hospital’s NDIS.
The Australian Medical Association earlier this month accused the NDIS of leaving people with disabilities to “languish” in state hospitals and called on the agency to foot the bill when beds are unnecessarily occupied.
Health Minister Chris Picton said Wednesday that talks with the federal government are “progressing very well” and that Shorten “takes this matter seriously.”
“The brief I had [on Tuesday] from SA Health was that the NDIA now comes much more to the party in terms of how it can help ease the discharge of these people from the hospital,” Picton told reporters.
The next meeting of disability reform ministers is scheduled for July 29.
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