"Underfunding" responsible for spread of COVID-19 in aged care: Australian Medical Association

Source: Xinhua| 2020-07-27 17:55:34|Editor: huaxia

CANBERRA, July 27 (Xinhua) -- Australia's peak medical body has declared that systematic underfunding has caused the rapid spread of COVID-19 in aged care facilities.

Tony Bartone, president of the Australian Medical Association (AMA), said on Monday morning that the "real issues in aged care stemmed from before COVID-19."

There have been more than 550 cases of COVID-19 linked to aged care facilities in Victoria, with most of the state's deaths also coming from nursing homes.

"Underfunding, workforce issues, guidelines, accreditations, all the issues we have seen highlighted in the royal commission on this sector clearly underpin a lot of what's happening now," Bartone told Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) television.

"You can't really fix that in the middle of a pandemic."

A survey published by the United Workers Union (UWU) on Monday found that two thirds of aged care workers do not feel prepared to deal with a coronavirus outbreak.

One third of more than 1,000 respondents said they received no additional training and 75 percent said they did not have enough staff to provide high quality care.

Bartone said that moving aged care residents to different facilities could relieve stress on the sector.

"We need to remember these are mums and dads of children, or brothers or sisters of other family members around the country that are in these facilities, they need to be in the best care possible," he said.

"If that means transferred to a subacute facility, something between a hospital and the aged care either public or private sector, where there is the capacity to give such care we should look at that to relieve the possible stresses on the system."

Richard Colbeck, the minister for aged care, on Monday apologized for the situation at a nursing home in Melbourne's northern suburbs where families have been unable to ascertain if their relatives in the facility were still alive.

There have been nearly 80 cases of COVID-19 at St Basil's nursing home and several residents have died.

"We know that people are worried, we want to make sure that they get good information with respect to their loved ones, but it's a very, very complex situation inside," Colbeck said. Enditem