The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) has welcomed the Albanese Government’s urgent intervention to stop aged care providers from sacking highly-trained Enrolled Nurses (EN) and replacing them with lower-paid personal care workers (PCW) in nursing homes.
As highlighted by the ANMF, Southern Cross Care Tasmania is making ENs redundant, substituting them with extended care workers. Some providers in South Australia are also substituting ENs with a combination of Registered Nurses (RN) and Personal Care Workers (PCW), whilst in NSW some ENs are reportedly being offered care worker contracts.
Responding to the ANMF’s ongoing advocacy of behalf of its members, Minister for Health and Aged Care Mark Butler and Minister for Aged Care Anika Wells said they were ‘highly concerned that Southern Cross Care are making enrolled nurses redundant because of incorrect claims these roles are no longer funded by the Government’.
"At a time when there has been a significant increase in federal funding for care and when there are acute workforce shortages, we are disappointed that Southern Cross is proposing to terminate the employment of longstanding, experienced and dedicated nursing staff," the Ministers said in a statement.
"It is unacceptable that after the findings and recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety that a small minority of providers are looking to lower the standard of care available to residents in aged care facilities."
The Government has urged Southern Cross Care to ‘reconsider its decision’ and has tasked the Department of Health and Aged Care to ‘provide a response for Government which will prevent this from happening’.
ANMF Federal Secretary Annie Butler said: “The ANMF and our members across Australia are pleased the Government has listened to our concerns. The Government understands the vital role that highly-trained ENs play in providing quality, safe care to vulnerable, elderly Australians living in nursing homes, as recommended by the Royal Commission.
“The ANMF will now work with the Government to ensure that it mandates specified minimum RN/EN/PCW care minutes, to protect the jobs of our ENs in aged care and, most importantly, strengthen the aged care workforce to guarantee quality care delivery. Our advocacy continues next week when a delegation of ENs and RNs will travel to Canberra to meet with Government Ministers.”
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