Aged-care deaths not being scrutinised: Mayo MP Rebekha Sharkie

Ms Sharkie says the Labor government hasn’t been held to account over COVID-19 deaths in aged care.

Ms Sharkie says the Labor government hasn’t been held to account over COVID-19 deaths in aged care. Photo: AAP

The federal government should be scrutinised more over the rising number of COVID-19 deaths in aged care, an independent MP says.

More than 3000 Australians have died with COVID-19 in aged-care facilities this year, which is almost triple the number of deaths in the first two years of the pandemic.

The aged-care death toll has also risen by 36 per cent since Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was elected in May, the Sydney Morning Herald reported on Sunday.

The federal government should be facing more questions about the spike, independent MP Rebekha Sharkie said.

“If we look back at the last Parliament, there were questions asked every day of the aged care minister,” Ms Sharkie told the ABC on Sunday.

“While we haven’t sat many weeks this year, we’re just not seeing the scrutiny.

“I think that it’s imperative upon every member of Parliament, including myself, to hold the government to account with respect to this.”

There are 278 aged-care centres currently managing COVID-19 outbreaks across the country, according to the latest federal health department data.

Some 1243 residents have COVID-19 while 381 aged-care workers are infected with the virus.

The government should tell the public how centres are being supported through repeated COVID-19 outbreaks and what is being done around ventilation and staffing numbers, Ms Sharkie said.

“COVID has not ended. The pandemic is still with us,” she said.

“It’s deeply concerning, deeply disturbing, that we’ve lost 3000 people this year in aged-care facilities.

“If that was last year, it would have been on the front of every newspaper, every day.”

One of the first acts of the Albanese government was instituting a winter plan to manage the aged-care sector’s response to COVID-19, Aged Care Minister Annika Wells said.

The plan, alongside continued access to antiviral treatments and vaccination, has dropped the case fatality rate in aged care from 33 per cent in 2020 to 3.5 per cent this year, Ms Wells said.

“Every death in Australia due to COVID-19, including the deaths of older Australians in residential aged care, is a tragedy,” the minister told AAP in a statement on Sunday.

“We’ve left no stone unturned in managing the response to COVID-19 in aged care.

“We have extended the ADF’s role in aged care until the end of September and have a surge workforce that provided 1704 shifts last week.”

Topics: Aged Care
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