Push for 24/7 RNs in residential care is not over: MP

The MP who sought to restore legislation requiring at least one registered nurse to be on duty in residential aged care facilities at all times says he will not stop trying despite its defeat in the NSW Legislative Assembly last week.

Phil Donato, the Member for Orange, introduced the Public Health Amendment (Registered Nurses in Nursing Homes) Bill 2016 in the Legislative Assembly last week after it was passed unanimously in the Upper House of Parliament the week before.

The Bill was knocked back – 45 votes to 35 – saving nursing home operators with high care residents from having to roster at least one registered nurse at all times.


However Mr Donato says this is not the end of the issue.

“The former requirement was for all nursing homes, but our bill was for those with high care residents only,” he said in an opinion piece written for the Central Western Daily.

“Nursing homes already receive extra Commonwealth funding for high care residents so they should have appropriate high care staffing (registered nurses).”

“My bill had support from doctors, nurses, the Country Women’s Association, Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association, the NSW Cancer Council and even 2GB’s Ray Hadley.”

“Unfortunately the bill was voted down 35 to 45 on the day before International Nurses Day and the premier didn’t even show up to vote.”

“This is despite it passing the Upper House of Parliament unanimously one week before – with Liberal Party and National Party support.”

“I will continue the fight for better aged care services, and you can be sure this won’t be the first bill I will introduce into Parliament on your behalf.”

ACSA CEO Pat Sparrow said her team worked hard to ensure those who had to consider the matter were aware of the safeguards already in place to ensure staff have the right skills and appropriate staffing mixes.

“I think its fair to say the issue of nursing comes up from time to time, but there are standards that require providers to ensure they have the right skills and staffing in place. Providers are assessed by Government against this.”

She said the Bill’s defeat is an outcome that will help providers have flexibility so they can ensure their staffing mix reflects the needs of the client mix at any given time.

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