Cairns aged care nurses to rally against aged care cuts 

Published: 11 May 2021

Cairns aged care nurses will today rally against aged care cuts in the region.
Queensland Nurses and Midwives’ Union (QNMU) Cairns Organiser David Beckham said the rally followed Mercy Health’s decision to shut one of two private aged care facilities in the region.
Mr Beckham said the closure of Mercy Place Woree would impact more than 40 elderly Cairns’ residents and could leave 80 local aged care staff unemployed. He said the elderly residents would be relocated to sister facility Mercy Place Westcourt about 5km away.
Despite the increase in resident numbers, the QNMU is advised the number of clinical staff at the Westcourt facility will be reduced by 25 per cent. 
“Nurses and other aged care staff will rally outside Mercy Place Woree to protest Mercy Health’s plans to vastly increase resident numbers and cut staff,” Mr Beckham said.
“The QNMU is advised 40 elderly residents will be transferred from one Mercy Health facility to another – effectively doubling the number of residents in care at that facility.
“Yet the QNMU is advised Mercy Health plan to reduce the number of clinical staff on the daily roster at Mercy Place Westcourt by 25 per cent.
“That’s an estimated double the number of residents at Mercy Place Westcourt with less staff than are currently rostered on.
“Such action is shocking in the wake of the devastating findings of the Aged Care Royal Commission.
“Not only will these potentially put elderly residents at risk, but more than 80 valuable aged care staff could be out of a job.’’
Mr Beckham said staff at Mercy Place Woree had been told to reapply for their positions ahead of the late June closure. They have not been provided any guarantees of ongoing employment or hours.
He said during the pandemic, and every day, staff worked tirelessly to care for elderly loved ones and deserved secure employment and answers. He said the families of residents had a right to know how the move could impact their loved ones. 
Mercy Place Westcourt is an 86-bed private aged care facility currently open and operational. The QNMU seeks information regarding why Mercy Health plan to reduce the number of clinical staff on roster at Mercy Place Westcourt while vastly increasing resident numbers. 
Currently in Australia, there is no federal government law that states even one Registered Nurse (RN) must be on site at a private aged care facility at any time. The QNMU has repeatedly called on the federal government to make nurse-to-resident ratios federal law – or mandate the requirement at least one RN be on site at all times. Sadly, the federal government has repeatedly refused to do so.
This means private aged care providers, who receive considerable payment from residents and taxpayers, are free to staff their facilities however they see fit. The QNMU will not rest until safe staffing is made federal law. The rally will occur outside Mercy Health Woree at 85 Toogood St Woree, Cairns at 11am. The media are asked to respect the bravery of aged care staff taking part and not identify any individuals or seek comment as this could jeopardise ongoing employment. The QNMU will be on site to comment on their behalf. 

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