Labor leader Anthony Albanese
Labor leader Anthony Albanese

Labor leader Anthony Albanese has confirmed that the party will look to recruit health workers from overseas to fulfil its promise of having at least one registered nurse in every aged care facility at all times.

As part of last month’s budget reply, Mr Albanese vowed that there would be one registered nurse in every aged care facility at all times within one year of being elected, but the party was accused of backtracking only six days later when Labor frontbencher Mark Dreyfus conceded that they may have to “pause” its plan due to staffing shortages.

In a recent op-ed in The Australian newspaper, Mr Albanese doubled down on the promise and revealed that nurses and doctors from overseas would be brought in to help meet the commitment.

“In the short term, we must recruit more overseas doctors and nurses. But this is a stopgap measure,” he said.

“Now, 80% of nurses in aged care are currently working part-time, they want more work but they can’t get it because of the way the sector is working.

“We do need to train more nurses and aged care workers. 

“The question is, do older Australians deserve dignity and respect in their later years … My answer to that is yes and I’m determined to deliver it.

Labor also pledged to open 50 GP urgent care clinics across the country, but shadow Health Minister Mark Butler does not believe that foreign workers will be needed to ensure the plan goes ahead.

“I’ve been inundated by general practice organisations calling our office, emailing in the past several days saying they want to be part of this,” said Mr Butler.

Health Minister Greg Hunt described Mr Albanese’s decision to import an aged care workforce as yet another “astounding backflip”.

Moves to mandate at least one registered nurse at all times across all aged care homes comes in response to the aged care royal commission recommendations.

The Morrison government says that it does support the recommendation, but it will look to achieve the outcome closer to the July 2024 timeframe suggested by the commission.

Labor’s promise to meet this recommendation within a year of being elected has been welcome news to families and many overworked aged care staff.

Article re-blogged. Original on Hello Care.

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