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The Southern District Health Board needs to recruit more disabled people to ensure they are represented at all levels of the organisation, a report says.
The Government recently announced its plan to establish a ministry for disabled people, and a report to be considered by the SDHB’s disability support advisory committee on Monday said this should be the catalyst for greater representation by and for the disabled in the Southern health system.
"Much work needs to be done to improve the recruitment of members of the disabled community to get representation at all levels of Southern DHB, and also a focus needs to be placed on attracting more members of the disabled community to be community advisers."
The board has endeavoured to connect more with disability groups in recent years and earlier this year, after extensive consultation, it released a new disability strategy.
It has also set up a steering committee chaired by disabled access advocate John Marrable to implement the strategy, and last week began a series of disability awareness training sessions for all staff.
Dr Lloyd said while it was too early to say specifically what the creation of the new ministry meant for the SDHB, it was likely to have wide and far-reaching implications.
"Not only will health providers have to work with other agencies to better support the goals and ambitions of disabled people, this [new] holistic approach to disability forces health providers to work together.
"In this respect, Southern DHB, through Southern Health, would seem to be well placed to contribute to delivering improved health outcomes for disabled people across the Southern district."
Advisers from the disabled community should be added to existing SDHB projects where there were none, and a consumer voice needed to be included into the design of all future services, policies and resources, Dr Lloyd said.
A mindset that those people were taking part as volunteers needed to change and they should be remunerated for their time, he said.
"A budget for disability-related activities, for example employment of disabled advisers, accessibility audits and remedial works, and the provision of information in accessible formats, should be considered for the 2022-23 budget round."