Aged change ‘to save billions’
Australia could save more than $21bn in aged-care costs over the next four years by avoiding unnecessary public and private hospital admissions from nursing homes and older people in the community, a report by the Australian Medical Association says.
In the year to 30 June, 2021, there will have been 27,569 transfers of residents from nursing homes to hospitals that were potentially avoidable, the AMA says, costing $312m and accounting for 159,693 hospital patient days.
The cost of transferring to emergency departments patients who are not admitted is $497m, a figure that could easily be avoided with immediate reform, said AMA president Omar Khorshid.
“Not enough nurses and limited access to GPs are behind the frequent transfer of older people in nursing homes to hospitals, often resulting in unnecessary prolonged stays,” he said.
“That’s why we are calling for the GP to be placed at the heart of aged care, backed by adequate numbers of nursing staff so healthcare is put back into aged care. Spending our money on aged care will deliver a return on hospitals.”
The report is part of the AMA’s Care Can’t Wait campaign, which includes 11 recommendations to government given during the aged-care royal commission. The recommendations, Dr Khorshid said, were “conservative figures”.
The report found doctorpatient relationships often broke down when patients went into aged-care homes, and this was due to poor incentives for doctors.