A prominent political commentator has joined the chorus of experts calling for aged care to be a major part of the health reform debate.

In a column for a Perth newspaper, John Howard’s biographer, Peter van Onselen, said the lack of aged care beds was a major contributor to the problems in the nation’s health systems.

“Thousands of older Australians are using valuable bed space in acute-care wards across the country because the supply of aged-care beds doesn’t meet demand,” he said.

“With the well-documented ageing of the population, unless something is done to rectify the situation, it is only going to get worse.”

Mr van Onselen said the government should address the aged care bed shortages as an urgent priority, regardless of the cost.

He added that without a funding boost in aged care, a federal hospital takeover would be doomed to failure.

“Here’s a suggestion,” he wrote in the column. “If finding the money to pay for more aged-care facilities is a problem, why not redirect some of the misspent stimulus billions into the aged-care sector?”
Mr van Onselen also suggested that it might be better to hand control of aged care facilities to the states if funding structures were guaranteed.

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