The Greens have raised concerns about the strain on public hospitals in Western Australia as aged care providers struggle to meet the demand for new places.
The party’s ageing spokesperson Senator Rachel Siewert said the recent inquiry into aged care made it clear that the state’s providers would not be able to meet the demand for an additional 4,300 places in the next two years.
“Many higher-needs aged people who should otherwise be cared for in appropriate aged care facilities will end up in hospital beds,” said Senator Siewert.
“It is bad planning and poor economics to be loading up our public hospital system with aged care patients, when hospital beds cost much more to provide and hospital waiting lists continue to grow.”
The senator said current funding was not sufficient and accused the Department of Ageing of having its “[head] in the sand”.
The CEO of Aged Care Association Australia WA, Anne-Marie Archer agreed that few of the state’s providers had the capacity to meet future demand.
“To be honest, we have no idea who will put their hand up to meet those targets as the last two rounds have already been grossly undersubscribed,” she said.
“The aged care industry will simply not continue to develop services needed in the future and this will ultimately impact on all Western Australians either directly or indirectly.”
The warnings of a “crisis” in WA echo comments made by the state’s health department at a Senate hearing in January.
It told the senate that there are between 420 and 440 older clients waiting in public hospitals for residential care throughout the state each day.
At the time there were close to 1,500 approved aged care beds in WA which were not operational.