ACAT nursing jobs at risk
Privatisation threatens the jobs of highly skilled and experienced nurses who ensure appropriate care is provided based on individual needs.
NSWNMA Acting General Secretary Judith Kiejda has warned that ACAT is being privatised with “a complete lack of transparency” and no assurances on staffing and skill mix to guarantee quality care and proper use of government funding.
“Privatisation and deregulation in the aged care sector has led to chronic understaffing,” Judith pointed out.
“The Royal Commission has described the aged care sector as a ‘shocking tale of neglect’.
“The federal government’s move to privatise ACAT services will further degrade a system in dire need of more support.”
Judith noted that ACAT teams work in conjunction with treating clinicians and are integral to a client’s journey.
“Replacing key members of these teams with private contractors will sever these relationships.”
She added that private com-panies do not have access to electronic medical records nor do they have the knowledge, skills and well-established relationships to provide comprehensive and accurate assessments.
“ACAT assessors are currently employed by NSW Health and many are rostered to attend hospital referrals, which ensures assessments are prioritised based on the flow of beds.
“Not having ACAT teams on site may contribute to longer waiting times in our already-overstretched public hospitals and further delays on assessments.
“Waiting for a private company to attend facilities will surely cause delays.”
Judith said privatisation could put for-profit nursing home operators (or subsidiaries) in charge of the assessments of elderly patients, leading to a conflict of interest and lack of accountability.
“An RN working in our public health system makes no financial gain and only has the interest of their patients and clients at heart.
“Private providers exist to make a profit and may pursue ‘ideal’ clients that are most likely to deliver a higher profit for aged care facilities.”
Judith warned that introducing profit-driven competition into aged care assessment would ensure a race to the bottom as contractors tried to spend the least in order to maximise their taxpayer-funded profit. n
‘A race to the bottom’
The Doctors Reform Society (DRS) says it is “deeply concerned” by the federal government’s announcement that it is starting the ACAT privatisation process.
“A privatised ACAT will be a race to the bottom”, said DRS president Dr Tim Woodruff.
“Poorly trained assessors will inadequately assess complex patient needs as they gouge government fees for their private owners and force the dedicated assessors out of the system because they will not be profitable.
“More taxes wasted and gifted to private businesses.
“Does this really sound like away to improve the lives of our ageing population?”
He said the government was moving ahead with privatisation despite its own Royal Commission into Aged Care preparing to deliver a full report with funding recommendations by November 2020.
“Nothing in its interim report suggests that a way forward is to privatise anything. Indeed, the report has clear concerns about ‘the market’.”