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Morrison Government Must Be Held Accountable for Deaths in Aged Care

Morrison Government Must Be Held Accountable for Deaths in Aged Care

As Australia heads to the polls tomorrow, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) is reminding voters how the Morrison Government’s disgraceful lack of action to fix aged care has led to hundreds and hundreds of preventable deaths in privately-run nursing homes across the country.

The Department of Health’s ‘COVID-19 outbreaks in Australian residential aged care facilities’ update reports there have been 2,335 COVID deaths in aged care, more than 30% of all deaths from COVID in Australia, with 1,418 COVID deaths reported in 2022 alone. Alarmingly, the data reveals that COVID continues to claim the lives of more than 60 elderly residents living in nursing homes every week.

“Over the past decade, consecutive Coalition Governments have treated the aged care system with absolute disdain – and this is why aged care in this country is in such crisis and elderly Australians continue to die and suffer,” ANMF Federal Secretary Annie Butler said.

“The Government’s own COVID-19 report clearly shows increasing numbers of COVID cases in aged care and, most concerning, increasing numbers of deaths from COVID-19 in nursing homes. Astonishingly, after two and a half years of dealing with the pandemic, Prime Minster Morrison and the Minister responsible for aged care, Richard Colbeck, instead of increasing protection for older Australians against COVID, have allowed the situation to get worse.

“These deaths come on top of the Aged Care Royal Commission’s report which outlined a system where the extent of substandard care is ‘deeply concerning and unacceptable by any measure’. A system where more than 50% of nursing home residents are malnourished, where less than 30% always have their care needs met and a disproportionate number have been allowed to die from COVID-19.

“It is unfathomable that in the face of all this, and evidence from countless inquiries, critical aged care reforms explicitly recommended by the Commission have still not been implemented.

“This Government has had almost a decade to address the worsening situation in aged care. It has also had almost a decade to plan and develop a health workforce, in particular a nursing workforce, which is equipped to respond to Australians’ health needs. It has failed to deliver.

“That’s why our members, those on the frontline who’ve given everything they have to protect us and care for us throughout the pandemic, are urging voters not to forget – don’t let this neglect continue.

“Voters should be asking why hasn’t Mr Morrison acted on the Royal Commission’s key recommendations to address the crisis in aged care? Why has he abandoned older Australians and the people caring for them?  Why don’t they matter as much as other Australians?

“Mr Morrison didn’t even have the decency to reply to the ANMF’s letter seeking his party’s election commitments for health and aged care. The ANMF and our members have a duty of care to tell Australians that the Morrison Government’s inaction has resulted in too many preventable deaths in privately-run nursing homes –  and we must warn that the neglect and abuse in nursing homes will continue unless we vote for real solutions to fix aged care.”