Care can’t wait—AMA calls for urgent action in aged care

1 Oct 2020

Doctors and nurses have united to call on the Federal Government to take urgent action now to prevent further COVID-19 outbreaks in aged care, warning that hotspots could appear in any State or Territory. 

AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid, and Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) Federal Secretary, Annie Butler, have written to Prime Minister Scott Morrison to express their concerns about the ongoing impact of the pandemic on aged care residents and staff. 

More than 630 of Australia’s 850-plus COVID-19 deaths have been in aged care. 

“It’s almost a year to the day since the AMA and the ANMF launched a joint campaign, calling on the Federal Government to act immediately to guarantee quality and safety in aged care,” Dr Khorshid said. 

“We called our campaign Care Can’t Wait. 

“That was four months before the global pandemic began to affect Australia. COVID-19 took the world by surprise, but its effects on the aged care system were entirely predictable.” 

In the letter, Dr Khorshid and Ms Butler say that recent increased funding will go some way towards enabling people to stay in their homes for longer and increase infection control for those in nursing homes. 

The letter also calls on the Government to act now to resolve the problems in aged care, to stop unnecessary suffering and save lives, rather than waiting for the Royal Commission’s final report. 

Dr Khorshid and Ms Butler called 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. 

Read the full media release here