The NSW Labor has Opposition has rightly criticised the Baird Government for dropping a rule requiring registered nurses in aged care to be on duty 24-7 – saying it will affect the safety of nursing home residents and will clog the State’s over-stretched emergency departments.
On late-Friday afternoon (April 29), the Baird Government – in response to a NSW Parliamentary inquiry into the requirement that nursing homes in NSW must have a registered nurse on duty around the clock – confirmed that it was dropping the rule.
This was despite the parliamentary inquiry recommending the Baird Government retain the regulation. Doctors, nurses, the Labor Opposition and various medical bodies as well as groups representing seniors and nursing home residents all demanded the regulation remain.
Shadow Health Minister Walt Secord said the Baird Government had put the commercial interests of nursing home operators ahead of patient safety.
Mr Secord said the Baird Government decision was “deplorable” and called on the Premier Mike Baird to reverse the decision by the NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner – which was confirmed on late Friday afternoon, and I agree with him.
Registered nurses are able to provide higher levels of pain relief and can dispense some medications and undertake certain procedures that other aged care workers are not allowed to; this prevents residents being sent to hospital prematurely.
Mr Secord said the parliamentary committee heard evidence that aged care facilities were taking nursing home residents to emergency departments when they did not have registered nurses on staff.
Mr Secord added that without the regulation, nursing home residents would have to wait hours or days for pain relief or wait to be transferred to hospital. He said:
"NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner owes it to older Australians to protect them by resisting commercial for-profit aged care providers who want to reduce oversight and protections like requiring registered nurses.”
"Sadly, the evidence of the parliamentary committee lined up in two disparate groups - those who wanted to protect nursing residents and those who wanted to protect the rivers of profit flowing into the pockets of commercial aged care providers."
“I am very disappointed the Baird Government has sided with commercial aged care providers over nursing home residents.”
“Having a registered nurse on duty also gives other nurses extra support, back-up and experience when it comes to making decisions involving the welfare of aged care residents.”