TAMWORTH nurses have rallied against aged care funding cuts, warning of job losses and hospital strain.
The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association gathered in Anzac Park yesterday to bring attention to the cuts and call on election candidates to pledge their commitment to the health funding agenda.
Long-time aged care nurse Gerard Ryan had a grim outlook for the industry in light of the $1.2 billion cuts.
“It’s money that we need. If we don’t have the money coming in, there’s going to be a lot of cost cutting, corner cutting and jobs are going to go,” Mr Ryan said.
With fewer staff on the floor, Mr Ryan predicted public hospitals would become a stopgap to pick up care previously provided by aged care nurses.
“People think the waiting period in the hospital is bad now, just wait until the nurses’ aids have responsibility, they’ll just send people to hospital,” he said.
Independent New England candidate Tony Windsor joined the rally yesterday and said aged care would be crucial in coming years with a “Baby Boomer bump coming through the system.”
“Our seniors deserve our respect and, where we can, we should be doing as much as possible to make sure their latter lives are looked after as much as possible,” Mr Windsor said.
Mr Windsor signed a pledge to “restore the health funding agenda, support the Medicare system, protect penalty rates and commit to RNs 24/7 in aged care” at the rally and said he would reflect on the pledge if he was elected.
“That doesn’t mean you can achieve every outcome, but you have to go in and fight for them and I’m more than happy to fight for these people,” he said.
Mr Windsor said health and education should be the highest priorities of any government.
“The old and the young should be our priorities and if that means we have to miss out with some things in the middle, things that might be popular electorally, well so be it,” he said.