The doctors and nurses have written to Prime Minister Scott Morrison to call for a suite of measures to prevent further COVID-19 outbreaks in aged care – warning that hotspots could appear in any State or Territory.
In the letter, AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid (pictured left), and Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) Federal Secretary, Annie Butler (pictured right), say that recent funding increases will go some way towards helping people to stay in their homes for longer and increase infection control for those in aged care homes, but more needs to be done.
“We remain concerned that the sector is still vulnerable, and that our members working in aged care face unacceptable risks of contracting the virus,” they wrote.
More than 630 of Australia’s 850-plus COVID-19 deaths have been in aged care.
The groups call for:
- The immediate establishment of the nationally-agreed Aged Care Health Emergency Response Operations Centres (ACERC) to help prevent outbreaks;
- Mandated minimum staff-to-resident ratios and a mandated skill mix, with registered nurse presence ensured 24/7;
- Adequate access to PPE, training in infection control, and reviewing infection control procedures;
- National paid pandemic leave arrangements;
- Increased funding for home care packages; and
- More transparency and accountability in how aged care providers spend Government funding.
“Rather than waiting for the Royal Commission’s final report, the Government must act now to resolve these problems, stop unnecessary suffering and save lives,” Ms Butler stated.
But a spokesperson for Aged Care Minister, Senator Richard Colbeck, has maintained the Government is already working with the States and Territories to support the development of response centres.
“The Australian Government called the Royal Commission to enable the aged care system to be considered in its entirety, not just the narrow focus of the union movement,” he said.
I believe that’s called a shut-down.