According to the latest Productivity Commission’s annual report on aged care services the ACT is struggling to keep up with demand for aged care beds. The average national waiting time from when a person is assessed and found to be in need of permanent aged care to when a bed becomes available is 84 days, however in the ACT it’s 185 days, said the Shadow Minister for Health Vicki Dunne.

“Elderly Canberrans and their families are being put under undue pressure by the slowness of admissions to aged care,” Mrs Dunne said today.

“185 days is slightly more than half a year and the ACT’s performance compares very badly to the national median of 84 days or nearly three months.

“Five years ago the average waiting time was 50 days as compared to 40 days nationally. The average waiting time in the ACT has increased by 135 days over five years.

“Not only are our wait times among the worst in the country but they have blown out under successive Labor administrations. Now more than 40% of Canberrans in need of aged care are waiting longer than nine months for access.

“The best performing states, Victoria and Tasmania, have median waiting times of 66 and 63 days. People who need aged care are waiting four months longer in the ACT.

“In some cases those in desperate need and potentially suffering from severe illnesses may end up in hospital long-term until an aged care bed becomes available.

“This has an impact on the already high and rising level of bed block in ACT hospitals and long waiting times in Emergency Departments.

“The failure to plan adequately for aged care in the ACT has been an ongoing issue with serious ramifications for the elderly and the wider health system,” Mrs Dunne said.