Prime Minister Scott Morrison will deploy members of the Australian Defence Force to help assist nursing homes with staff shortages caused by surging Omicron cases.
Mr Morrison said up to 10 teams of ADF personnel would give “targeted support” in aged care, where nursing homes were facing “extreme situations”.
The teams will include a registered nurse, medical technicians and other personnel to provide general support.
“They have provided quite targeted support into the aged care sector in extreme situations, some of the most difficult situations,” he told reporters in Canberra.
“A majority of those are clinical support because that's the resource available ... it’s a targeted bespoke effort.”
In total, up to 1700 defence force personnel will be deployed.
The decision, announced after a high level meeting of the national security committee, comes after weeks of pressure on the Prime Minister to deploy the ADF to assist the stressed workforce.
He eventually made the extraordinary statement that the sector was in crisis.
But Mr Morrison pushed back on claims he could acted sooner to alleviate pressure in the sector.
“The idea that the defence forces can come in and just replace all of the shifts that are lost because people have Covid is just not realistic,” he said.
“And that was never a scenario or an option that was under consideration because it's just simply not feasible.”
Health Minister Greg Hunt said about 5900 staff out of the 280,000 strong workforce furloughed due to Covid-19.
“So that's less than 3 per cent of that workforce. If you just focus on the impacted facilities themselves, it's less than about 5 per cent of the current workforce in those facilities,” Mr Hunt said.
More aged care residents died with Covid in the first month of the year than in 2021.
On Friday, Aged Care Royal Commissioner Lynelle Briggs said the government’s lack of preparation had led to the current crisis in aged care.
“What we're looking at in aged care is months on end with no-one visiting them, and sometimes dying alone,” Ms Briggs said.
“It really shouldn't be allowed to happen and the government should have sorted its strategy out for how to prevent this happening again.”Do you have an idea for a story?
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