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Aussie aged care system faces resources crisis: report
Last Updated: 2018-02-12 15:33 | Xinhua
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Australia is staring down the barrel of a resources crisis in the health and aged-care industries, a report has found.

The PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report, released by private health insurer Australian Unity on Monday, found that the sectors will require an extra 18.7 billion U.S. dollars in capital costs and an additional 10.1 billion U.S. dollars in annual operating costs by 2025 to meet projected gaps.

If funding is not boosted, the report estimated that the gap in capital costs would hit 44.5 billion U.S. dollars by 2040 and the operating cost shortfall would grow to 23.4 billion U.S. dollars.

James van Smeerdijk, author of the report, said that workforce shortages also loom large with the aged-care workers and nurse shortage projected to go beyond 200,000 people within seven years and 500,000 by 2040.

"Without fundamental change, and soon, the health and ageing systems will become unaffordable and unfit for purpose," van Smeerdijk wrote in a column for News Corp Australia on Monday.

"For example, it is estimated that we will need 180,000 more carers to cater for our ageing population and 85,000 more nurses across the health and aged-care sectors in the next seven years."

The report said that Australia would be home to more than five million people aged 70 or older in 2040 while 4.6 million Australians will suffer from circulatory system diseases such as heart failure, coronary artery disease and cardiomyopathy.

It recommended that Australia take a practical approach to supporting innovation that will meet future needs, echoing the findings of a November 2017 report by the Productivity Commission and September's Aged Care Review carried out by senior public servant David Tune.

"We often hear that Australia has a world-class health system, and our life expectancy is among the highest in the developed world," van Smeerdijk said.

"But we now also have the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's highest number of years of life spent in ill-health (10.9), so now is not the time to sit back.

"We must urgently start thinking about what lies ahead, not in decades, but in a few short years, in terms of our capacity to meet community needs.

"Low-risk, incremental change simply won't cut it given the numbers we face."

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