THE National Palliative Care Strategy 2018 has been launched for implementation over a five-year period. All Australian Health Ministers have signed the Strategy.
But, CPSA has concerns about the Strategy. For example, The National Palliative Care Strategy says: “Australia has been identified as a world leader in the provision of palliative care and in the quality of our palliative care research programs”.
Yet every time there are media reports about palliative care, the theme is that there is a woeful undersupply.
Undersupply – shortage of specialist staff and nurses, particularly for people dying at home – doesn’t get a mention in the National Palliative Care Strategy 2018.
The closest to an admission that palliative care is hard to get is formulated in one of the Strategy’s priority goals: “People can receive timely palliative care in the place of their choice”. If it’s a priority and a goal, it means it hasn’t happened yet.
But there’s no attempt to quantify the undersupply of palliative care.
There is some improvement though. Recently, the NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard announced a $45 million investment in palliative care. This will see funding for 100 additional specialist palliative care nurses across NSW, with 64 of them in rural and regional NSW. There are also funds allocated for a number of indigenous health workers, as well as money for refurbishing existing palliative care units.
This is great news and $45 million sounds like a lot of money. There should be more of both. That’s the real National Palliative Care Strategy Australia needs.