Aged care companies are accused of dumping residents in hospital emergency departments for basic care to maximise their profits.
A report in The Australian suggested there were many companies taking advantage of the legal grey area, to take basic medical procedures away from their centres and dump them onto the public hospital system.
According to the report, Regis Healthcare was one of the frequent abusers of the system, with one particular centre in Brisbane dumping around one patient a week into a state hospital for a minor medical procedure since the start of the year.
Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles said the practice increased pressure on the public hospital system unnecessarily.
“I’m sick and tired of hearing about nursing homes rushing to get residents to hospital, not because they need emergency healthcare, but to get them out of the nursing home when their care-needs risk affecting the profitability of the company,” he told The Australian.
“The providers know that once an elderly patient is admitted to hospital they are unlikely to ever leave, saving the nursing home from the costs of their care.”
Regis Healthcare received almost $400 million in federal subsidies in the year to last June.
Much of this is care funding that subsidises the cost of looking after residents across a variety of domains, each measured from low, medium to high.
“We’ve heard stories of nursing homes providing just one nurse for 100 or even 200 patients,” Mr Miles said.
“There is no way one person can provide care for that many people.
“I’m told many privately run facilities don’t have a nurse on duty at night or have one nurse on call for multiple facilities. Residents who need care at night are taken to public hospital emergency departments with minor ailments that could have been treated by a nurse on-site.
“These providers are making big profits, some subsidised by taxpayers, but they are not delivering the services we expect.”
What do you think? Have you had a loved one in aged care taken to hospital for low-level healthcare? Are these companies rorting the system?