Coronavirus: Newmarch House deserves stand-alone inquiry, Newcastle advocate says

Aged care advocate and lawyer Catherine Henry
Aged care advocate and lawyer Catherine Henry

Aged care advocate and lawyer Catherine Henry says an examination of the spate of coronavirus deaths at Sydney's Newmarch House "will get lost" unless it is kept separate.

Ms Henry, the spokeswoman for the Australian Lawyers Alliance, on Wednesday argued that a stand-alone inquiry was the best path to exploring the "desperate" need for reform in the aged care sector.

"The investigation will get lost if it is incorporated as part of the very large Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, as has been proposed," Ms Henry said.

"The residents of Newmarch House and their families have legal rights and, as a community, we need to understand what went wrong in the management of the outbreak at this facility.

"One of the significant and ongoing issues in aged care is the lack of transparency and accountability. Holding an inquiry into this disaster will provide the opportunity for open review of the situation and will draw the federal government's attention to the urgent underlying issues.

"The current system places undue focus on internal complaint mechanisms. We believe the sector needs an independent, external tribunal like the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission."

More than 60 residents and staff have tested positive to coronavirus at the Sydney nursing home, with a 16th death confirmed by health authorities on Tuesday afternoon.

This story Newmarch House deserves stand-alone inquiry, advocate says first appeared on Newcastle Herald.