Newmarch House took six days to accept government-funded coronavirus medical staff

The operators of the Newmarch House aged-care home, where 19 residents have died from Covid-19, waited six days before allowing a federal government-funded surge workforce of private medical clinicians to enter its facility, a Senate inquiry focusing on aged care during the pandemic has heard. The revelation about operator Anglicare’s surge staffing decision was one of several outbreak response issues identified by senior Department of Health officials and Anderson, who described the effort to contain the virus spread at the Newmarch facility – Australia’s second biggest cluster to date – as “not a compellingly good example” of management. “(We) concluded that they needed significant help in their management of that outbreak,” said Anderson, the chief of the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, the sector’s regulator that intervened in the situation at Newmarch earlier in May, with action that included ordering an independent adviser to be appointed, and halting all new admissions to the facility. Amy Laffan, the acting first assistant secretary in the Department of Health’s aged care reform and compliance division, responded to a question from the Liberal senator James Paterson, confirming the date that Aspen Medical surge staff were deployed to Newmarch House after a delay of several days. Lye also responded to a question from the Labor senator Kristina Keneally about the Anglicare chief executive, Grant Millard, who claimed that requests for PPE from the national stockpile were not met. Asked about the lessons the Department of Health and the aged care regulator had learned from the Newmarch outbreak, Anderson said she now personally phones the manager of any aged-care facility within 36 hours of a case being identified.

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