Surge workforces have provided 97,602 COVID-19 shifts in aged care homes yet AMA opposes them

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The Australian Medical Association (AMA), the peak professional body for doctors, has told the Productivity Commission that it opposes the use of independent contractors in aged care homes.

The Aged Care Royal Commission recommended that aged care providers should preference direct employment and that it should be the condition for their accreditation. The Federal Government did not accept the recommendation and referred it to the Productivity Commission for examination.

The Productivity Commission is holding an enquiry and the AMA made a submission.

“The AMA does not support indirect employment in aged care. It is the AMA position that continuity of care is crucial for provision of adequate health and personal care in the aged care setting. An indirect employment model that relies on independent contractors (including those in labour hire agencies) and workers engaged through digital platforms is not conducive to continuity of care and therefore the AMA cannot support it,” said the submission.

“For example, one such online platform continues to receive Federal funding to provide surge workforce during COVID-19 outbreaks in aged care facilities.”

The AMA believes that any care stripped of accountability will be detrimental not just to older people receiving aged care services, but to the employees in the sector too, who are forced to rely on insecure, low wages that are then further reduced by the intermediaries who connect them to the clients.

“These intermediary platforms have no responsibility for the quality of service that is provided nor are they accountable for complying with the Aged Care Quality Standards.”

The surge workforce used to plug gaps because aged care staff caught COVID-19 has filled 97,602 shifts, including roles for GPs, nurses, care workers, allied health workers, executive and ancillary staff.