Move to return aged care to health portfolio welcomed

Move to return aged care to health portfolio welcomed

Thursday 1 October 2015


The Australian Medical Association (WA) today welcomed the Federal Government’s decision to return the responsibility for aged care to the Health portfolio.


However it would be appropriate to change the name “aged care” to “ageing” and widen the role of the portfolio to reflect the vital importance of preparing Australia for a fast ageing population.


“Caring for older Australians, whether they live in residential aged care or independently in their own homes, is a vital part of medicine,” AMA (WA) President Dr Michael Gannon said.


“Most older Australians have longstanding relationships with their GP, who is best placed to determine which services will work best for their patient.


“Early medical assessment is critical to ensuring that older Australians receive the appropriate support to maintain their level of independence before their social and health situation deteriorates.


“But Australia’s ageing population will have a far wider impact on the Australian society than just aged care,” he said.


Over the next several decades, population ageing is projected to have implications for Australia, including; health, size of the working-age population, housing, demand for hospital care, mental health and demand for skilled workers.


Like most developed countries, Australia’s population is ageing as a result of sustained low fertility rates and increasing life expectancy. This has resulted in proportionally fewer children (under 15 years of age) in the population and a proportionally larger increase in those aged 65 and over.


According to recent data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the number of people aged 65 years and over is projected to exceed the number of children aged 0-14 years around the year 2030.


However, with less than 10 per cent of those aged 65 and more in residential aged care, it is becoming vital to extend the role of the portfolio.


“The projected change in our population age structure is going to present significant challenges to how we approach health care for our ageing population,” Dr Gannon said.


“For example, the incidence of falls resulting in hospitalisation are expected to significantly increase demand on our public health system. We need to ensure preventative programs and processes that minimise the strain on our health system are a main focus for the Minister.


Dr Gannon said he hoped that the Assistant Health Minister, WA’s Ken Wyatt, would also assume responsibility for the portfolio.


“We welcome the news of Hon. Ken Wyatt’s appointment, and look forward to engaging with him and Health Minister Sussan Ley on ageing care policy priorities at the earliest opportunity,” Dr Gannon said.

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