Home | Industry & Reform | Aged-care cuts will increase strain on public hospitals: provider

Aged-care cuts will increase strain on public hospitals: provider

Funding cuts in the sector may force residential aged-care service providers to reconsider admitting older people ready to be discharged from hospitals, increasing pressure on the public system, a provider has said.

In a letter to state and territory premiers and health ministers, UnitingCare Australia warned about the impact cuts would have on public hospitals and asked for their help in restoring funding.

The letter stated: “In the 2016–17 Budget, the Australian Government announced the removal of $1.2 billion over four years from the Complex Health Care element of the Aged Care Funding Instrument. This is on top of the $750 million cut announced in December 2015. The Complex Health Care element funds what are considered ‘high-care needs’, where care is provided by registered and enrolled nurses and allied health professionals.”

It also spelled out the findings from some Ansell Strategic modelling – commissioned by UnitingCare, Aged & Community Services Australia and Catholic Health Australia – that showed most aged-care providers would be forced to review admission policies for people with high needs, including those being discharged from hospital.

“UnitingCare Australia believes the cuts will result in frail older people remaining in hospital longer than medically necessary as availability of suitable aged-care places is reduced,” the letter read. “End-of-life care may in future be available only in hospitals and hospices.”

The chair of UnitingCare Australia's Aged Care Network, Steve Teulan, said the cuts would shift the budget burden of caring for vulnerable, sick older people from aged-care facilities to hospitals.

Teulan said: “Many of our residents within the UnitingCare Aged Care Network are frail older people discharged from hospital.

“We would never seek to turn away a person needing care, but federal government cuts will have a negative impact on the health of older people, the public hospital system and the health system as a whole.”

UnitingCare called on the state and territory governments to urge their federal counterparts to halt the cuts to aged-care funding and work with the sector to develop a more sustainable funding model.

“We are appealing to the federal government to work with us to find a more sustainable way of funding aged care so vulnerable, sick older people get the healthcare they need into the future and we can meet the growing needs of our ageing population,” Teulan said.

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