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Ageing Australia: PM's $739m Boost
Source: smh.com.au
Source Date: Monday, April 12, 2010
Focus: ICT for MDGs
Country: Australia
Created: Apr 12, 2010

A new aged-care funding package will tackle "pressure points" in the system, and look to expand it for the future, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says. Mr Rudd today outlined the $739 million, four-year plan in Brisbane.

In a statement, the government said the plan was the base for further structural reforms, and flagged a future announcement on aged care nurses. The government would provide terms of reference to the Productivity Commission to undertake a major inquiry into the aged-care system, to ensure it was equipped to meet future challenges. It recognised a major challenge to the system was in workforce numbers and increasing demand, and said the government would "have more to say on this in the near future".

The terms of reference would be released at COAG after consultation with the states and territories.The package announced funds for 5000 aged care places and invests $96 million in improving access to general practitioner care for people in aged care. Of the new beds, 2500 will be developed through zero real interest rate loans, and aged care provided by Multi Purpose Services in rural communities will get 286 sub-acute beds.

Earlier, Mr Rudd told ABC Radio the plan would help end the blame game between the commonwealth and states. "If you don't have enough aged care beds in the regions and right across Australia, what happens is that people get stuck in hospital beds," he said. "That's bad for, shall I say, the hospital, it's bad for the patient. "Ageing Minister Justine Elliot would not say whether the new funding was contingent on the states agreeing to the overall health reforms, to be discussed at next week's COAG meeting in Canberra.

"I don't think we can pre-empt what they may or may not be saying at COAG, certainly we'll be looking for their support particularly when it comes to home and community care," Ms Elliot earlier told ABC Radio. The government says there were 2400 patients in hospital beds waiting for an aged care place to become available in 2006.An estimated one-third of transfers from nursing homes to hospitals - about 27,000 admissions a year - could be avoided through better care by doctors in nursing homes.
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