New task force slammed

A new task force is being formed to scrutinise the disproportionate number of COVID deaths in aged care.

A dearth of data behind the COVID deaths in Australia’s aged care sector has prompted the Government to form a new task force to scrutinise the causes of the fatalities.

“We are looking to try to get more details about these deaths,” chief medical officer Paul Kelly told reporters in Canberra last Thursday. “It’s not an easy thing,” he said. “The numbers have been challenging.”

And rising all the time. There have been close to 600 deaths so far this year, with 5,439 active resident cases across 1,176 sites.

The task force was immediately slammed by Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese who said – given the disproportionate toll the coronavirus is having on older Australians – an investigation should have already been underway.

“Is the suggestion the department [of health] was not looking at those issues, that they had to set up a task force? Surely they were looking at these issues?” asked Mr Albanese. “The idea that you could have, as you have had, 566 deaths since the first of January in aged care and the department would not be looking at those circumstances is extraordinary.”

The latest figures show that 585 aged care residents with COVID-19 have died since the start of the year.

Meanwhile, independent South Australian senator Rex Patrick took to Twitter: “Scott Morrison is seeking recommendations from a new task force when there’s already 148 useful recommendations from the royal commission,” he wrote.

Speaking to the ABC, senior specialist in geriatric medicine Professor Joseph Ibrahim said: “I think the task force is really an indictment on the plans that have been executed by the Federal Government since the start of the pandemic.”

Professor Ibrahim said he’d be fascinated to learn which experts will be joining the task force and what their connections are to the Government. “We’ve seen in the past that, the Prime Minister in particular, will cherry pick the people he wants on committees to deliver an outcome which he finds predictable and able to be managed politically.”

Gerard Hayes

When contacted by Australian Ageing Agenda for a comment about the newly announced task force, national president of the Health Services Union Gerard Hayes said: “Here we go again. [The Government] is really good at putting layer upon layer of bureaucracy [onto the system].”

He added: “Just saying we’re going to look into what’s occurred – well of course we’re going to look into what’s occurred, but what [is the Government] actually going to do today to prevent this occurring in the next two, three, four weeks, or four months?”

Comment on the story below. Follow Australian Ageing Agenda on LinkedInX (Twitter) and Facebook, sign up to our twice-weekly newsletter and subscribe to our premium content or AAA magazine for the complete aged care picture.  

Tags: covid, featured, greg hunt, paul kelly, professor joseph ibrahim,

1 thought on “New task force slammed

  1. The necessity of a ‘task force’ confirms once again, the incompetency of the inept regulator – the Aged Care Quality & Safety Commission.
    Mr Albanese has called for Mr Colbeck to be sacked.
    He also needs to announce details to replace the failed ACQ&SC.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *