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Nurses call for better funding ahead of budget

Treasurer comes under pressure to tackle wage parity and care ratios.

In the lead up to 11 May nurses unions are putting pressure on government to deliver their budget wish list.

The $300 wage gap between aged care and public hospital nurses is set to become an election year issue should the government fail to inject aged care funding into the budget, they have said.

The ANF and NSW Nurses Association have launched a joint $3 million campaign to pressure the government to increase funding for the industry.

“If we don’t inject more money into aged care in this budget I fear the nurses won’t be there to care for the growing number of older Australians in the future,” said Ged Kearney, ANF federal secretary.

Similarly the Queensland Nurses Union is calling on the public to email the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, and emphasise the need for better aged care funding.

QNU secretary, Gay Hawksworth, said the campaign is focusing on the Treasurer ahead of the budget to ensure he gets the message personally.

“Our message to Mr Swan is clear and simple: It’s time for the government to start delivering for aged care on Budget Day this May,” Hawksworth said.

In this year’s budget the government must commit adequate funding to ensure the right balance of skills and nursing hours; fair pay for aged care nurses; recognition of the professional skills of assistants in nursing and care staff through a national licensing system, and a guarantee that taxpayer funding is used for nursing and personal care for each resident, she said.

Swan recently told parliament two thirds of budget submissions related to the issues of the health system and the challenge of sustaining an aging population.

Elsewhere, the ‘Campaign for the care of older Australians’ has written to the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, saying aged care must be central to wider health reform.

Older people should have more choice around the types of services they use, who provides them and where. And the safety nets and incentives to ensure special needs group have access to care should be strengthened, they said.

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