ACAT privatisation canned
The Morrison government retreats from another attempt to sell a piece of the public health system
Strong opposition has forced the federal government to drop its plan to privatise Aged Care Assessment Teams (ACATs), which determine the level of care required by elderly Australians.
The federal government backdown came via a joint statement by federal, state and territory health ministers, which said:
“The Commonwealth has agreed to work with the states and territories to have a consistent, uniform, efficient and integrated aged care assessment process that meets the needs of senior Australians and their families.
“The Commonwealth has confirmed that it is not proceeding with the current tender process. Over the longer term the Commonwealth will take advice from states and territories and from the royal commission about what the exact delivery mix should be.”
Earlier, the Morrison government announced that private providers would take over the work of ACATs from April 2021, with tenders to be called this year.
Health and aged care ministers from three states – including Liberal-led NSW – voiced concerns about ACAT privatisation and the royal commission rebuked the Morrison government over the issue.
The NSWNMA said privatisation threatened the jobs of highly skilled and experienced nurses who ensure appropriate care is provided based on individual needs.
NSWNMA General Secretary, Brett Holmes, said the decision to scrap the tender process was sensible.
“Privatising ACAT would have dramatically disrupted aged care assessments currently delivered by a skilled workforce of nurses, geriatricians, social workers and others,” he said.
“These nurses are employed in the public health system and have no commercial interests; instead, they hold the interests of consumers as a top priority.
“This proposal would have jeopardised the employment of hundreds of skilled clinicians and destroyed decades of expertise.
“Consumers in need of aged care assessment support could potentially have been directed to a for-profit provider, who may not have been independent of the care provider.
“Fortunately, the NSW Health Minister recognised the privatisation plan was illogical and voiced his concerns publicly.
“Not only would the proposal have put additional pressure on our already overstretched public hospitals, it also pre-empted any outcomes of the royal commission into aged care, which is still underway.”