CONCERNS: The ANMF says unless action is taken, nursing cuts in aged care could become more common.
CONCERNS: The ANMF says unless action is taken, nursing cuts in aged care could become more common. Mike Knott BUN190717PIONEER2

Loss of nursing jobs a harbinger for more cuts, says union

AGED care homes slashing nursing staff are thumbing their noses not just at expert advice but also at a recent Senate Inquiry, according to the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation.

This month Blue Care will reduce its nursing staff by 11 full-time equivalent positions across its three Bundaberg facilities.

The ANMF says that unless action is taken, other aged care providers could start laying off nursing staff.

ANMF federal secretary Lee Thomas said the care of the elderly was being compromised by the cuts while aged care providers laid blame on the Federal Government.

Blue Care's cuts follow on from Southern Cross Care also reducing staff, according to Ms Thomas.

"With all this evidence showing how the elderly are at risk, it's disgraceful that certain providers are going ahead with these massive cuts to nursing hours, then trying to pass the buck on to the Federal Government," she said.

A statement from the ANMF claims Blue Care is "playing the blame game" by attributing the cuts to a $1.2 billion Federal Government funding reduction.

A spokesperson for Blue Care said Federal Government aged care reforms and average occupancy rates were instrumental in Bundaberg's nursing staff reductions.

Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt previously told the NewsMail that federal funding for aged care would grow by 6% over the next four years with about $12.5 billion provided between 2017 and 2018.

"Decisions on staffing levels are a matter for the provider," he said last month.

Ms Thomas said the situation needed Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt to put a stop to the slashing of nurses.

She said the ANMF was "extremely concerned" that providers like SCC and Blue Care were "blatantly ignoring the findings of a recent Senate Inquiry, the Australian Law Reform Commission and evidence from ANMF members working in aged care that inadequate staffing levels were resulting in ever-increasing missed-care episodes and abuse and neglect of the elderly".

Last week, a member of the community spoke to the NewsMail, saying she had witnessed residents not receiving meals and not getting medications on time because staff were physically too busy to get to all their tasks.

Blue Care denied the claims, saying they were "simply not true".

"Unless the aged care minister, Ken Wyatt, steps in and puts a stop to it, then there's little doubt other aged care providers will get in on the act and start sacking nurses and cutting rostered nursing hours at their facilities," Ms Thomas said.

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