Fears for patients as state set to sell aged-care beds

The Victorian government has confirmed plans to sell off its aged-care beds in Melbourne, prompting concerns patient care will be compromised.

Budget documents show the government expects to save $25 million in 2014-15 and $50 million in 2015-16 as a result of the change, which would see private or not-for-profit providers take over management of about 1000 aged-care beds in Melbourne.

The government runs about 25 residential aged-care facilities throughout the city, with a mixture of high-care and low-care beds. They are run by local hospital networks and include facilities in Caulfield, Heidelberg, Burwood, Brunswick, Flemington, St Albans and Bundoora.

A spokesman for Health Minister David Davis said there would be no loss of beds as a result and the federal government was expected to expand bed numbers to reflect population growth and need.

Australian Nursing Federation state secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said the sell-off was a cost-cutting measure that would negatively affect patient care. She said nurses would be made redundant as private facilities shed staff and increased the proportion of ''personal care workers'' at the expense of registered nurses.

Ms Fitzpatrick said aged-care residents had multiple chronic health problems that often required monitoring by nurses to prevent them becoming acutely ill.

''Providing sufficient numbers of skilled nursing staff results in better outcomes for residents and safer care, as well as helping to reduce the pressure on Victoria's already stretched hospitals.''

The opposition's spokeswoman on ageing, Jenny Mikakos, said the government was being secretive about plans to privatise aged care.

''Labor is committed to retaining our public aged-care facilities to ensure Victorians have a choice about where they are cared for,'' she said.

This story Fears for patients as state set to sell aged-care beds first appeared on The Age.