Sunday, January 04, 2009

Australia: Campbelltown public hospital again

See here for another recent case of negligence there

John Haywood will spend this morning in a church chapel watching a video of the life he shared with his wife of 25 years, Marie. He and his 15-year-old son Johnny won't speak at her funeral - the only word they can think of at the moment is "why." Why was she told she was well enough to leave Campbelltown Hospital despite having pneumonia she contracted in there. "My wife went into Campbelltown Hospital two days before Christmas Day for a routine operation and now she is dead," Mr Haywood said yesterday. "She wasn't going in there to die. "They made her sick and they should have made her better. She was only 43."

Her death has sparked a full investigation into events leading to her death on Monday. Mrs Haywood went into hospital to have fluid removed from her stomach; a minor operation done under local anaesthetic. By Christmas Day she was seriously ill with pneumonia as well but Mr Haywood said a specialist, without actually seeing her, decided she was well enough to go home. "One of the staff there told Marie's sister they didn't have a lot of staff on anyway and she'd probably get better care at home," Mr Haywood said. "She didn't want to go home because she knew was still too unwell."

By December 27 Mrs Haywood could not breathe and was rushed back to Campbelltown Hospital where she was immediately put in intensive care. She died on Monday.

Mr Haywood believes the State Government's penny-pinching in health contributed, in a large way, to her death. "Most of the beds and rooms were closed off when we were in there," he said. "We want to know whether it was the system that fell down or the people." The hospital and state Government argue there was enough staff and would not say more as the matter was being investigated.


Australian Federal government blocks new nursing home provision

There are already lots of frail elderly taking up hugely expensive (State government funded) public hospital beds because they have nowhere else to go and the knowall socialists in Canberra are trying to make that problem worse??? The State Premiers affected should be making Prime Minister Rudd's ears red until he backs down on the stupid regulations dreamed up by his subordinates

The state's main aged-care home operators have boycotted the Federal Government's annual offer of nursing home bed licences, leading some to predict a significant shortage of places in the near future. "In a few years' time we could be back to the bad old days when people were on huge waiting lists for months," said Rod Young, chief executive officer of the Aged Care Association Australia. The operators, including the non-profit and church agencies, say it is uneconomic to build new nursing homes - now known as high-care facilities - under the Federal Government's funding arrangements that prohibit nursing home bonds.

The Government offered licences for 7663 new residential aged-care places across Australia, 2100 of them in NSW; applications closed last month. The number of licences offered each year is based on a strict formula of predicted need. The state's biggest non-profit operator, UnitingCare Ageing, applied for none of the new bed licences; nor did the other big providers, Catholic Healthcare, Illawarra Retirement Trust and Anglican Retirement Villages. Baptist Community Services applied for only a few licences in order to finish a project.

The managing director of Catholic Healthcare, Chris Rigby, said this would prove a "watershed year" in aged care. "My sense is that the number of providers who have applied for high-care bed licences will be minimal," he said. "From talking to our bankers I understand they won't lend for high care on greenfield sites because they can't see how it will work." He said Catholic Healthcare had handed back some approvals it had received in a previous round: "We just can't make the economics work."

The private company Amity has applied for 350 licences. Its chief financial officer, Peter Forsberg, said: "It's barely economic but we had already secured the land." The director of UnitingCare Ageing, Gillian McPhee, said it cost about $200,000 for each new high-care bed in metropolitan Sydney. But the Federal Government allowed operators to recoup only $120,000 for capital funding through a capped accommodation charge to residents of $26.88 a day. "Aged-care providers are not able to make sufficient margins to make it sustainable," she said.

The Federal Government has made clear it will not introduce bonds for entry to high-care facilities, although bonds are permitted for low-care facilities. Critics say the frail elderly should not have to sell their house to finance entry to a nursing home. The issue proved politically sensitive for the Howard government. Some operators are now lobbying for substantial increases in the daily accommodation charge, little changed in real terms since John Howard introduced it in 1997.

Paul Bradley, general manager for residential care for Anglican Retirement Villages, said it was the first time in the past eight years the organisation had not applied for any residential bed licences, even though it had building sites available. Nieves Murray, chief executive officer of Illawarra Retirement Trust, one of the nation's biggest community providers, said the organisation had several sites on coastal NSW, but the capital cost problem was a main reason it had not applied for licences. She said unless the Federal Government tackled the funding problem, the non-profit sector would not build new homes, leaving the field to private operators and "you may end up with a situation like ABC [child care]".

A spokesman for the Minister for Ageing, Justine Elliot, said that over the next four years funding for aged and community care would reach record levels of more than $41.6 billion, $29.5 billion of that on residential care. It would provide an average of $43,000 for every aged-care resident. The Department of Health and Ageing is sifting through the applicants. However, several agency heads told the Herald they believed the offer would be undersubscribed in NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and Western Australia.


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