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Govt Robs Weakest Elderly Of Funding

The Government is slashing funding to our most frail elderly when their care needs are greatest, National's Senior Citizens spokesperson Dr Lynda Scott said today.

"The Government is robbing Peter to pay Paul by cutting $8 million of funding to geriatric hospitals and moving a small amount to rest homes. This takes away a lifeline that will force closures of many stand-alone geriatric providers.

"Geriatric hospitals look after our most frail and sick elderly, often providing terminal care. In most centres there are small numbers of facilities to care for these patients. They are now under threat.

The Government plans to cut the average price paid per bed for geriatric hospital care by up to $1,145 a year. For a 30-bed hospital that is $34,384 a year.

"This Government promised it would not close hospitals but Ruth Dyson has failed to win any backing from Cabinet for more funding for elderly care. Religion and welfare homes are telling me 'we will not give second rate care. At these prices we have no choice but to exit'. Public hospital providers will be forced to close and the elderly will suffer.

"The Government gave elder care no extra money in the Budget and has frozen prices for two years while homes and hospitals battle a six percent rise in food prices and increased staff expectations for wage rises.

"The problems of elder abuse in homes which this government promised it would work to stamp out, will worsen because they are underfunded, understaffed, community workers go untrained, and waiting lists grow.

"This is absolutely unacceptable and I seek urgent funding injection to elderly and geriatric services. These hospitals and homes provide a high level of care that must be funded to an adequate level," Dr Scott said.

Ends




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