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Friday, April 23, 2021

Questions raised over future of Wallsend aged care facility

Wallsend state MP Sonia Hornery will this week use Parliament to raise questions about the future of the Wallsend Aged Care Facility after concerns were brought forward by unions, staff, patients and the community.

The local member is planning to put a Question on Notice to the Minister for Health Brad Hazzard, asking him to confirm if the centre will remain in public hands and continue to operate.

Fears have been elevated as a result of management letting bed and patient numbers run down from a peak of 98 to 55.

Employees recently reported no new patients had arrived since January 2020 and, as a result, there’ve been staff cuts on shifts because of fewer clients.

The facility has also stopped taking on undergraduate Registered Nurses.

Ms Hornery fought the then NSW Labor Government to keep the facility open and in public hands in 2009.

“The Wallsend community is rightly very concerned about the future of the Wallsend Aged Care Facility,” she said.

“We have seen successive governments attempt to close or privatise the centre in the past and the community have fought to keep it open.

“What I don’t want to see is this government attempt to close or privatise it by stealth.

“In 2017, the facility failed an audit by the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency because management didn’t provide a safe and comfortable environment for residents and cleaning and catering staff were found to be under-resourced.

“Now, we are seeing bed and patient numbers falling to almost half of the numbers from 12 months ago.

“The government has a history of not maintaining the facility as they should.

“So, the Wallsend community wants assurances from the Minister and the Hunter New England Local Health District that there are no plans to close or privatise it.

“I look forward to hearing from Mr Hazzard and I hope that the answer is what the community wants to hear because if it’s not, then he can expect another very public and vocal campaign, just like last time.”

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