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Issue #1786      July 19, 2017

“Stop slashing care hours”

The country’s largest union, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF), is calling on the Aged Care Minister to stop a national aged care provider from carrying out wide-ranging nursing cuts and underpaying other workers at its aged care facilities.

Photo: Craig Greer

In Queensland alone, Southern Cross Care is proposing to slash more than 1,500 hours of care per fortnight at four of its nursing homes, whilst in Tasmania qualified carers enterprise agreement hourly rates are $20.83 which are under the Award.

In South Australia, ANMF members employed at Southern Cross are also fighting against a reduction to staffing hours across five sites. The branch has notified a dispute to the Fair Work Commission.

Federal secretary Lee Thomas said the ANMF is horrified at the cuts to the work hours of registered, enrolled nurses and assistants in nursing (AIN) which will dramatically impact the care being provided to older residents in Southern Cross Care nursing homes.

“This means fewer and fewer care staff will be employed, or they’ll have their work hours dramatically reduced, resulting in a compromised level of care for residents,” Thomas said.

“As we are all aware, there is already a crisis in aged care. The Aged Care Quality Agency is investigating an incident where a resident at a Southern Cross Care facility in the ACT had 50 full-grown maggots in his wounds. The elderly man later died in hospital.”

A separate report shows the number of deaths in nursing homes from preventable causes has increased by 400 percent over the past 13 years; a Senate Inquiry found current nurse ratios were “too low and risked compromising the quality of care delivered” and there’s increasing episodes of missed care, abuse and neglect of the elderly due to inadequate staffing.

“But Southern Cross don’t seem to care,” said Thomas. “It’s staggering that despite all of this alarming evidence about decreasing care standards and dangerously high workloads for aged care staff, we now have a national aged care provider slashing and burning over 1,500 crucial care hours, along with operational and hospitality staff. As a not for profit organisation which has ‘core values of care’ it must surely put its people first.

“The ANMF knows that if these cuts to nursing hours are allowed to proceed, then Southern Cross cannot guarantee the quality of resident care won’t decline. If Southern Cross is in any way blaming its cuts to nursing care on a $1.2 billion reduction in federal funding, then the Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt must step-in.”

Ms Thomas said the ANMF will be supporting any action taken by members of the Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union and the ANMF South Australian branch and the Protected Action Ballot by the ANMF Tasmanian branch. “We will campaign against any cuts to nursing – for the sake of residents and their families.”

Next article – Privatisation a failure

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