CANBERRA, AAP – Prime Minister Scott Morrison says Australia’s aged care system is seen as a global standard, with the government working to introduce round the clock nurses in facilities by 2025.
Mr Morrison is campaigning in Brisbane on Friday, where he said the government was planning to introduce the recommendation made by the royal commission into the sector.
“We do have a target for 24/7 nurses by 2025, the back end of 2025,” he told ABC Radio.
The royal commission found the system was plagued by chronic under-staffing and low pay for workers who were leaving in droves.
Up to half of older Australians in care were also found to be malnourished or at risk.
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Mr Morrison said Labor’s pledge to mandate the 24-hour nurses in the first year if elected “can’t happen overnight”.
“But if you made that the standard right now as the Labor Party is, you would be shutting down aged care facilities all across regional Queensland, and I would suspect in parts of metropolitan Queensland as well,” he said.
“So when you think through these policies and put them in place, you’ve got to think about consequences and aged care is very complex.”
Mr Morrison said Australia wouldn’t settle for the standard of care in place, but it was among the best in the world.
“The rest of the world looks at our system and actually sees it as a standard,” he said.
“What I love about it is we don’t settle for that. It’s not perfect, and it’s needs to be a lot better.”
Labor campaign spokesman Jason Clare labelled aged care a “nightmare” and said government ministers had provided different dates in responding to the nursing recommendation.
“We’ve said do it as fast as you can,” he said.
“If you’ve got people who have maggots in their wounds … that aren’t being fed properly, then we’ve got a problem here.”
A spokesman for Aged Care Minister Greg Hunt said on Thursday, the government had “accepted the recommendation of 24/7 nurses in aged care, by the commission’s timeline of 1 July 2024”.
The federal government set aside $19.1 billion in funding to reform aged care.
Labor has placed health care at the forefront of its election campaign, pledging to overhaul the aged care sector and to strengthen Medicare funding.