$93 million for NSW palliative care upgrades, but is it enough?

Article published 1 September 2023

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$93 million for NSW palliative care upgrades, but is it enough?

Big money is finally being spent on NSW palliative care facilities, but is it enough and will it improve end-of-life care?

INPATIENT palliative care in NSW is getting a much-needed investment, with upgraded or new facilities planned in Westmead, Auburn, Wyong, Nepean, Tamworth and Orange.

Whilst in some ways this is a good news story, a closer look shows that end-of-life care in NSW will need far more investment as our population grows and ages.

Western Sydney

With the upcoming closure of the historic St Joseph’s Hospital in Auburn, a new dedicated palliative and supportive care unit at Westmead Hospital is much-needed.

Westmead Hospital has not had a dedicated unit since 2009, with only 7 beds in the oncology ward that may be used for palliative care when available.

Currently, Mt Druitt Hospital has 16 beds and Auburn has 10. This will serve the entirety of the Western Sydney Local Health District when St Joseph’s closes this month, taking 8 beds with it.

When the new unit is completed, Westmead Hospital will have 15 beds, and upgrades at Auburn will add a further 10 to the area – but it has recently been announced that Westmead’s new facility won’t open until 2026 at the earliest.

If you are interested, you can register to have your say in the redevelopment here.

Central Coast

Wyong Hospital will receive a $13.6 millon investment into a new, dedicated palliative care unit with 12 beds.

There are currently 10-14 beds at Gosford Hospital, built in 2021 after many years of advocacy from the local community. This is the Central Coast’s only inpatient palliative care unit.

Community members can have their say on the upgrades to Wyong Hospital here.

Nepean Blue Mountains

Currently, Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District has only 10 dedicated palliative care beds across the entire region.

It’s unclear how many additional beds will be available after the new facility is built at Nepean Hospital in Penrith, but it is likely to be similar to the new facilities in Westmead.

People who are passionate about palliative care services, live in the Nepean Blue Mountains area, and/or have experience with either hospital or community-based palliative care can have their say on this project by clicking here.

Hunter New England

Tamworth Hospital’s Nioka palliative care unit will be upgraded, with $21 million in funding dedicated to a purpose-built unit at Tamworth Hospital.

Nioka currently has 6 beds, which will be doubled after the project is completed.

Western NSW

Orange will receive $3 million to upgrade their current palliative care facilities. At this time, there are only 2 palliative care beds available at Orange Hospital. This will be increased to 4.

Orange is located in the Western NSW Local Health District, which covers an area of nearly 250,000km – the largest health district in the state. Local advocates are disappointed that out of the $93 million package, they have been short-changed.

Advocacy group Orange Push for Palliative continues to work with local representatives to fight for more palliative care options in their area.

So what next?

It is clear that palliative care in NSW has a long way to go. Whilst there are community-based alternatives, this option is not suitable for everyone, and it should be a choice rather than a necessity. People in NSW, particularly in regional areas, do not have access to the range of care options they need and deserve.

There are many groups established by members of local communities who are actively pushing for improved palliative care in their region, and each of the projects named here have a dedicated group of advocates who have worked hard to make change happen. It is clear that this is an issue that many of us care about deeply.

Dedicated units with specialist staff provide the highest standard of care available, allowing people to experience the most difficult of times with dignity. We all deserve that.

For more information please email our media contact at media@cpsa.org.au

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