Palliative care and specialist health services in NSW will receive a $743 million funding boost over the next five years as part of the government’s budget boost.
It comes after the passage last month of laws allowing voluntary assisted dying in NSW.
The funding boost will allow the government to employ an additional 600 nurses, allied health professionals, doctors and support staff, Premier Dominic Perrottet said.
It will also improve access to pain management services for patients with life-limiting illness and strengthen virtual care, transport and equipment programs.
“This is about providing the greatest possible comfort and dignity to people who are at the end of their life, whether that’s in hospital, at home or in the wider community, right across the state,” Mr Perrottet said in a statement.
Providers welcome funding
The move has been welcomed by palliative service providers, including in-home health and aged care provider Silverchain, which currently provides community palliative services in partnership with state governments in WA, SA, NSW and QLD in partnership with the state governments in those states.
Chief Executive Dale Fisher said support for palliative care provided a “lasting contribution to our community”.
“Our Western Sydney service provides round-the-clock on-call specialist palliative care services to support patients to die in the place of their choice; at home, with their family and loved ones at their side,” she said in a statement.
Silverchain said it looked forward widening its current suite of services.
“As an existing partner of the NSW Government delivering palliative care at home for the Western Sydney community, we are looking forward to further discussions with the government on how we can support the delivery of more palliative care services for NSW,” as spokeswoman told Community Care Review.
HammondCare, which has announced it will expand its end of life services for people on home care packages under a five year palliative care strategy, also welcomed the extra fudnding.
“HammondCare looks forward to hearing more about its future plans for partnerships with non-government organisations, primary care organisations, and aged care providers,” HammondCare GM Health and Palliative Care Andrew Montague told Community Care Review.
However, he said the announcement was only a start.
“Current estimates are that up to 75 per cent of people dying in Australia now miss out on palliative care,” he said.
“There is an urgent need for more people to have the opportunity to live their lives to the very end with peace and dignity.”
Dedicated palliative care units
A further $93 million will be used to redevelop NSW Health facilities, including new dedicated palliative care units at Westmead Hospital and Nepean Hospital, the NSW government says.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the funding boost will also increase the number of short-term, high-care beds in rural, regional and metropolitan hospitals.
“We will be providing more palliative care beds for people requiring short-term hospital stays right across the state,” he said in a statement.
“We will also build new dedicated palliative care units in two of our major hospitals, Westmead and Nepean, which will dramatically improve services for these local communities in Western Sydney.”
Minister for Regional Health Bronnie Taylor said the government is placing a strong focus on regional communities.
“Everyone has the right to die with dignity, and this package will provide better access to palliative care no matter where you live,” she said in a statement.