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Coatsworth is asked about evidence in the Aged Care Royal Commission today that hundreds of residents will die prematurely because there has been a look of urgency and an attitude of “futility”.
He responds that some of the evidence in the royal commission doesn’t reflect the “totality” of the government’s response, and says it’s “insulting” to suggest there was an attitude if futility in Australia’s response.
This is a virus that disproportionately affects the aged in our community. That is not a statement of futility, it is a statement of fact. It’s a statement that our most vulnerable in the community needed to be protected.
[T]he assertion that there was an attitude [of] futility towards death in residential aged care in Australia is frankly insulting to the entire Australian community who locked down to prevent deaths amongst our most vulnerable.
He’s then asked about advice from the federal government to aged care facilities which told them to prepare for 20% to 30% losses in staff if there was an outbreak. Centres like Newmarch in Sydney and St Basils in Melbourne have seen losses of 80% and upwards.
You know, what went on at St Basils and some of the other facilities that have been markedly affected has been entire shifts of staff, entire facilities worth of staff not being able to work either because they are affected by COVID-19 themselves, acquired largely from the community, or they’ve been furloughed as a decision to protect residents and what that has led to is entire facilities being without a workforce.
I just ask everybody to reflect as they consider what the federal government plans were and what providers planned for. There are very few organisations in Australia, in fact, I’d struggle to name one, that has a business continuity plan for their entire workforce being absent.
I think there are a lot of things that are being reconsidered by the AHPPC at the moment and every single jurisdiction is considering the document that was presented to National Cabinet at the last National Cabinet which was lessons learned from the Victorian aged care outbreak.
I draw your attention back to the fact that when you have a community-level outbreak of the extent we have had in Victoria and many other nations in the world on the first or second wave, residential aged care workers or health care workers are a significant part of our workforce a sa proportion so when the proportion of Covid is high in your community the number of affected facilities is very, very high and no government in the world as yet has been able to prevent the incursions of Covid-19 into residential aged care facilities, when you have a Covid outbreak of that sort.