Iain Curry

Support behind bill to make RNs mandatory in NSW aged care

THE Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party believes it has the support to debate a bill on making registered nurses (RNs) mandatory in aged care homes across New South Wales.

There are fears the Baird Government will remove a requirement for RNs to be on duty at all times in nursing homes after it rejected the recommendation made as part of an inquiry into the issue.

In a statement provided to the ABC, Health Minister Jillian Skinner said the regulation of aged care facilities was the responsibility of the Commonwealth.

"After extensive consultation, New South Wales has decided to fall into line with every other state and territory," she said.

"I am confident New South Wales' aged care facilities will maintain their high standards as a result of this change."

However Shooters MLC, Robert Brown, said it was Ms Skinner's duty to look after aged people.

The government also rejected a number of the other 16 recommendations made by the General Purpose Standing Committee No. 3, including minimum staff ratios and police checks for those working in aged care.

Mr Brown plans to introduce a bill on RNs in aged care homes to the NSW Upper House by year's end.

"I know I have the support of the Christian Democratic Party," he said.

"I think the Labor Opposition are pretty much behind us on this, so we have the numbers in the Upper House and if the government won't agree and give me leave, then I will force, through contingent notice, to get this bill on and debated.

"It's [Ms Skinner's] duty as the NSW Health Minister to look after the people of New South Wales.

"When it comes down to an aged person's health, to their wellbeing, even to their safety, I think you can't sit back and blame the federal government.

"She has to do something and if she doesn't, we will."

Mr Brown is fearful of the future of nursing homes without registered nurses.

"If a resident at one of the aged care facilities, during the middle of the night, gets intense pain, then the assistants in nursing or the enrolled nurses are only allowed to give them something no stronger than a Panadol, or call an ambulance," he said.

"Now, our ambulance service is stretched to the limit anyway.

"You're putting those patients health, wellbeing and, in some cases, their lives at risk."

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