The new Budget measures include palliative care training for 300 nurses and allied health staff, and 300 scholarships for rural and regional staff to enhance palliative care skills. Services will also benefit from an additional six palliative care specialists in rural and regional areas, two specialist positions to provide relief to other specialists in rural and regional areas and an additional 30 palliative care nurses providing care in hospitals, homes and nursing homes.
Palliative Care NSW welcomes these initiatives particularly as they relate to providing opportunities for health professionals to increase their skills in end of life and to specialise in palliative care.
“This is a very welcome response to the concerns that have been raised around the State by community members and by Palliative Care NSW,” says Therese Smeal President of Palliative Care NSW. “‘More than an increase in positions funded – this announcement recognises the need to increase the specialist palliative care workforce by providing scholarships and training opportunities to ‘upskill’ the existing workforce."
“We are particularly pleased to see the rural and regional initiatives implemented including training and scholarships, along with additional funded positions for palliative care specialists," Ms Smeal adds.
Aged & Community Services Australia (ACSA) CEO Pat Sparrow says any funding or policies that increase access, choice and develop system capability would be welcomed by the industry, however, she also feels any initiatives should support work already being achieved in aged care.
“Palliative care is a core service for aged care providers and there is already a lot of work being done in this space,” says Ms Sparrow. “The commitment to palliative care in the Budget is pleasing and ACSA is keen to work with stakeholders to ensure these programs are effectively implemented and deliver maximum value."
She points out the workforce delivers palliative care and services to older Australians in a range of different settings, and says it is imperative that we continue to support people to receive these services in their place of choice.
While praising Treasurer Dominic Perrottet MP and Health Minister Hon. Brad Hazzard for their work getting these funds through, Dr Yvonne McMaster OAM, a retired palliative care specialist, and full-time palliative care campaigner highlights the amount of advocacy for palliative care.
"This wouldn't have happened if it weren't for hundreds of passionate advocates, Cancer Council workers and people like yourself, sharing their stories about palliative care, signing petitions, talking to their politicians, attending events, and generally making a noise about palliative care,” she writes in her recent Push for Palliative care campaign newsletter.
She points out part of the $100m is as yet unallocated and is slated for use according to the findings of the Roundtables currently being conducted by the Government. “We will be pushing hard here to see more specialist physicians, nurses and allied health added to the ranks across NSW,” she adds.