Home | COVID-19 | Newmarch House sanctioned for coronavirus response, could lose licence
Pictured is security putting tape up at the entrance to Anglicare's Newmarch House at Caddens in western Sydney that has now recorded 16 Covid-19 related deaths. Picture: Richard Dobson

Newmarch House sanctioned for coronavirus response, could lose licence

Anglicare’s Newmarch House has been put on notice by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission and is at risk of losing its licence to provide aged care.

Yesterday the commission announced that it has “taken a series of graduated regulatory actions to ensure compliance in response to escalating concerns and evidence that the provider was failing to meet Quality Standards,” at the home where 16 people have died.

The outbreak started on April 12 and since then some 37 of 100 residents have fallen ill, giving Newmarch the unwanted title of the worst cluster in Australia behind the Ruby Princess disaster.

In a statement made on Wednesday, commissioner Janet Anderson said the steps taken at Newmarch included “an administrative direction, followed by a non-compliance notice, and most recently, a notice requiring agreement”.

“The Commission has escalated our enforcement as a consequence of continued evidence of lack of effective infection control, and of immediate and severe risk to the safety, health and well-being of residents at Newmarch House.”

When the commission is considering revoking aged care approval from a provider, a notice to agree (NTA) may be issued as a first response. The NTA given to Newmarch states that:

  • the provider has failed to give an undertaking to remedy their non-compliance 
  • failed to comply with an undertaking to remedy their non-compliance
  • made submissions in response to a non-compliance notice that are unsatisfactory, or 
  • where the Commissioner is satisfied the provider’s non-compliance poses an immediate and severe risk to the safety, health and well-being of care recipients

They have until 5 August to remedy the situation. However, if the situation deteriorates, it is hard to imagine action won’t be taken sooner. This very public shaming coming close behind a rebuke from NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian who took a swipe at the management of the provider only last week.

“What’s happening there isn’t acceptable, and unfortunately you do notice a difference in the way people who run these aged care homes across the nation are dealing with the issue,” Berejiklian told ABC News Breakfast after the 13th death at the facility from COVID-19 was announced.

“Some are doing it better than others. And unfortunately, this particular operator has been left wanting on a number of levels.”

In a statement, Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck said: “The action by the Commissioner today will require high level co-ordinating support to Anglicare and Newmarch to ensure all elements of the operations on site are clearly co-ordinated and managed.

“As in every circumstance, along with representatives of the ACQSC, the PHU, Nepean Health, the NSW Government and all the medical and health professionals who have guided us, all actions we have taken have been in the interests of residents and their families at Newmarch.”

The crisis engulfing aged care has not gone unnoticed by the aged care Royal Commission.

On Wednesday they continued to encourage people affected by coronavirus to make submissions and said they have been collecting evidence since March “so that their final report may be informed by the lessons learnt from the pandemic—including the lessons from what has happened at Newmarch House, and other aged care facilities”.

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5 comments

  1. It remains grossly unethical to make an example of the one Anglican Aged Care facility, that of Newmarch. The “blame” cannot be placed here. Moving out of the “blame game”, finding constructive ways to assist Newmarch in order to PREVENT further covid deaths is the only compassionate way forward.
    In times like these sensationalism, repetitive stories about covid and anything related, is NOT helpful.

    • Couldn’t agree with you more. It’s not as if we all know how to manage Covid-19 – a problem that’s sprung up in the last 3 months.

  2. I feel very sorry for the Algicrre Home, their staff and patients. NSW health has been appalling and discriminatory against the eldery. One child gets a mild case of COVID and the whole school closes down for deep cleaning. Poor elderly people are dying, and the Premier uses it to beat the facility with a broom.

    Surely, everyone needs to be taken to individual rooms in a hospital or hotel, and get good care, while the place is totally cleaned. Then only people with no virus are allowed in.

    To leave the vulnerable there borders on criminal behaviour by NSW Health.

    • Geoff, I couldn’t agree with you more. The sanctioning of newmarch is a knee jerk reaction to place blame on an organisation that is not a hospital dealing with the care of seriously ill vulnerable people.
      In Tasmania they closed the the hospital and moved everyone out to do a deep clean. They also found on the learnings from that cluster that highly qualified and skillled clinical staff were not following infection protocols adequately enough to stop infection.
      Newmarch didn’t have this support, it didn’t have the benefit of a root cause analysis so that we could all learn from the situation and do better, no, just slap them with punitive action which benefits nobody.
      I really don’t understand this discriminatory action. Is the ultimate aim to have everyone live out their days in hospital?

  3. Dr Gaham G. Mills

    What this tells us is that we must look more carefully at all Aged Care Facilities.
    This does not mean tightening up on individual freedoms. It means the standards of interpersonal care should be reviewed.

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