The peak body for doctors has said that Australia could be saving $21 billion by eliminating avoidable hospital admissions from aged care homes and older people in the community.
“The potentially preventable hospital admissions – just one aspect of the current nursing home experience – show there are substantial savings to be made with immediate reform,” Australian Medical Association president Dr Omar Khorshid said.
“We believe these hospital admissions, presentations and stays could be prevented through better provision of primary care in aged care settings and that means investing in GPs and registered nurses."
The AMA estimates that over one year up to 30 June 2021 there will have been 27,569 admissions of residents from nursing homes to hospitals that were potentially avoidable, costing $312 million and accounting for 159,693 hospital patient days.
Their modelling finds that $21.2 billion could be saved over a four year period by better integrating the health care and aged care systems so that they work together and complement each other.
The savings will be made from potentially avoidable admissions to private and public hospitals from nursing homes ($1.4 billion), from older people in the community ($18.2 billion), those transferred to emergency departments but not admitted ($497 million), re-presentations to emergency departments within 30 days ($138 million) and people waiting in hospital for a place in a nursing home ($887 million), the AMA said.
“We’ve gone to great lengths dissecting publicly available data and applying conservative estimates to cost this," Khorshid said.
“Our new report clearly states the action required to future-proof aged care so we have a system we, ourselves, would be happy to live in and send our parents and other loved ones to."
These figures are part of a new report from the AMA, ‘Putting Health Care Back Into Aged Care’, the centrepiece of the its continuing campaign ‘Care Can’t Wait’.
The AMA have outlined their vision for the future health of aged care in the report and have made 11 recommendations for the Government, backed with further detailed costings of select proposals.
These include mandating minimum staff-to-resident ratios in nursing homes and mandating an RN be on site 24/7 in nursing homes.
The peak also wants to see Medicare rebates increased for GPs that attend nursing homes by 50 per cent to "compensate for the additional time and complexity involved in comparison to a GP consultation in their own rooms". They estimate that Government investment of $643 million over four years to 2024-25 ($145 million in 2021-22) is needed to increase these MBS rebates.
Also suggested is the introduction of hospital aged care outreach teams in all local health networks, in coordination with a patient’s usual GP.
“Proper medical care based on the needs of our older people is a basic human right and our broken system is failing them,” Khorshid said.
“We understand properly funding aged care will require significant investment, but this is an opportunity to also significantly improve the quality of life for older Australians while also realising substantial savings in other parts of the health system.
“Not enough nurses and limited access to GPs are behind the frequent transfer of older people in nursing homes to hospitals, often resulting in unnecessary prolonged stays."Do you have an idea for a story?
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