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Issue #1777      May 17, 2017

Budget 2017-18

No care for aged care

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) says last Friday’s International Nurses Day (IND) is a chance for the whole community to acknowledge and applaud the crucial contribution nurses make to the Australian health system each and every day.

IND was first declared on May 12, 1974 by the International Council of Nurses (ICN) to celebrate the birthday anniversary of Florence Nightingale. ANMF federal secretary Lee Thomas said this year’s IND theme – “A voice to lead” – is relevant to the ANMF, as the union speaks out against the negative impacts of the Budget on nurses.

“IND is a great opportunity for everyone to take a minute and reflect on the amazing work nurses do every day – we should be acknowledging and indeed, applauding their contribution to Australia’s health and aged care systems,” Thomas said.

“However, we also need to use IND to voice our concerns about the federal budget and how it’s going to impact our members, particularly nursing and midwifery students and nurses working in the under-resourced aged care sector. Like other members of the community, nurses will continue to pay more in out of pocket costs for specialist health services, given the government has refused to immediately lift the freeze on GP rebates.

“If the government was serious about alleviating the cost of healthcare, it would immediately put an end to the freeze, full stop. But even when it is eventually and completely lifted in 2020, it will be too little, too late – the damage would have already been done.”

Ms Thomas said that the budget again has shown no care for aged care. Australia faces a shortage of 20,000 aged care nurses, but there’s been no reversal of the crippling $1.2 billion in funding cuts, nor has there been any regulations for safe staffing ratios for aged care nurses.

“Aged care nurses are finding it harder and harder to cope with dangerously high workloads and there’s been a notable rise in the number of missed care episodes at aged care facilities across the country. Without mandated 24/7 nurse ratios, the care nurses can provide to vulnerable nursing home patients continues to be compromised.”

The budget will also force students dreaming of becoming nurses and midwives to pay thousands of extra dollars for their degrees and have to start repaying their HECS debt much sooner, after the income threshold was cut to $42,000.

“On International Nurses Day, we are disappointed the government can deliver up to $50 billion in corporate tax cuts to big businesses, but can hurt hard-working aged care nurses and Australia’s next generation of nurses.”

The ANMF, with over 259,000 members, is the industrial and professional voice for nurses, midwives and assistants in nursing in Australia.

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