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Fears more aged care nursing jobs to go

By Karen Keast | Last Updated: 26-06-2014

The QNU fears more aged care nursing jobs are at risk

The Queensland Nurses’ Union fears up to 100 nurses face redundancy and hundreds more jobs are at risk if government-owned aged care services continue to be privatised.

The concerns come after Metro North Hospital and Health Service announced plans to close two properties at its Eventide Aged Care Campus at Brighton.

The closure affects an estimated 120 jobs, including about 100 nurses, with residents to be moved before June next year.

In announcing the decision, board chair Dr Paul Alexander said the private and non-government sector had the capacity to manage residential aged care in Brisbane’s northern suburbs.

“We have looked at the market and there is the capacity and capability to look after
these residents,” he said in a statement.

“We feel they are better placed to provide this type of care as we are primarily in the business of acute hospital care.”

QNU assistant secretary Des Elder said the union holds concerns more State Government aged care services could follow suit.

“The government has made comments to the affect that they believe their core business is around acute care and aged care certainly isn’t their core business,” he said.

“With aged care residents we are very concerned because we are looking at the comparison between staffing numbers in Queensland Health aged care facilities and those in the private sector facilities and staffing levels in Queensland Health are significantly higher.

“The skills mix within Queensland Health facilities is significantly better with the proportion of registered nurses and enrolled nurses to unlicensed workers.

“In the private sector, there is much evidence to support there are limited numbers of registered nurses in private aged care facilities and significantly lower and sometimes no registered nurses on shift in private facilities.”

Mr Elder said the union was also alarmed at a growing trend in the private sector to use unlicensed workers to handle medication through Webster-paks.

“It’s a real concern for us because there’s a lot more to the management of medication than giving it to the patient – it’s understanding the side effects and also the reasons for the medication,” he said.

“We believe closing these facilities is the wrong approach – the public sector does have a very important role to play in aged care services.”
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