Media Room

Cancer Council NSW campaign urges Government to take action on palliative care staff shortage

13th December 2016

 

Cancer Council NSW and its community of passionate advocates – through its new I Care for Palliative Care campaign – are making an urgent call to the NSW Minister for Health to end the shortage of specialist palliative care services across the state.

Currently, there are not enough palliative care doctors and nurses to meet the needs of the NSW community. NSW needs 10 more full time palliative care physicians, at a minimum, to be brought in line with national palliative care recommendations.

NSW falls behind every other state and territory when it comes to the number of palliative care nurses per head of population, with Cancer Council NSW identifying that NSW needs 129 more full time palliative care nurses to bring us up to the standard of the rest of Australia. To ensure Aboriginal people can access the care and support they need Cancer Council NSW is also calling for culturally appropriate palliative care for Aboriginal people.

Kelly Williams, Policy and Advocacy Manager at Cancer Council NSW  says:

“We believe that when someone has a terminal illness, they deserve the best possible palliative care, whenever and wherever it is needed. Palliative care means people can keep doing the things they love for as long as possible and that families can make the most of the time they have left.

“It is saddening to think that many people in NSW are unable to access specialist palliative care and support because there just aren’t enough staff to support them. We know that the current palliative care doctors and nurses do a wonderful job, but they are stretched to meet demands across the state.

“It is a reality that, despite the hard work and dedication of researchers, cancer continues to take too many lives, young and old. Palliative care services are an essential part of the care of the terminally ill, and of the families who support them, and we need more of them.”

Specialist palliative care allows people with advanced cancer to maintain their quality of life in a way that is meaningful to them. It is provided by a multidisciplinary team including specially qualified and experienced doctors and nurses. It caters for physical, practical, emotional and spiritual needs of patients, families and carers.

The NSW Government has acknowledged, in its state action plan for palliative care, that there are gaps in specialist palliative care services in regional, rural and remote areas of NSW, and for Aboriginal people.

“The NSW Government must take action now to close the gap in current palliative care services, and prepare for the increased demand for these services, as more people across the state are affected by chronic illnesses,” continued Ms Williams.

Community members across NSW can support the I Care for Palliative Care campaign by signing the pledge for Minister Skinner to end the palliative care shortage: www.canact.com.au/palliative_care_pledge

– ENDS –

Media contact:

Laura Cairnduff, PR Manager, Cancer Council NSW

 laurac@nswcc.org.au / 0413 889 283 / 02 9334 1408

 

Notes to editor:

  • Cancer Council NSW is calling on the NSW Minister for Health to end the shortage of palliative care by funding 10 additional specialist palliative doctors, at a minimum; 129 palliative care nurses; and culturally appropriate palliative care for Aboriginal people. 
  • There are not enough palliative care doctors and nurses to meet the needs of the NSW community.
  • NSW needs 10 more full time palliative care physicians, at a minimum, so we are in line with the recommended ratios.
  • NSW falls behind every other state and territory when it comes to the number of palliative care nurses per head of population. To bring us in line with the other states and territories combined, we need 12.5 FTE per 100,000 population but we are well behind that. We need the NSW Government to fund 129 more full time palliative care nurses.
  • Many Aboriginal people don’t have access to care appropriate for their cultural needs.
  • In a 2016 report, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare explicitly outlined that the use of palliative care medicine services is increasing, and that as the Australian population grows and people live longer, the demand for palliative care services will increase.
  •  The Push for Palliative campaign is collecting data about the number of palliative care physicians in local areas and we can refer you to this information where necessary.

About specialist palliative care:

  •  Specialist palliative care allows people with advanced cancer to maintain their quality of life in a way that is meaningful to them.
  • Specialist palliative care is provided by a multidisciplinary team including specially qualified and experienced doctors and nurses.
  • It caters for physical, practical, emotional and spiritual needs of patients, families and carers.
  • It helps people feel in control of their situation and make decision about their ongoing care.
  • Specialist palliative care also provides support and advice to GPs and other health care professionals so they can continue to be involved in their patient’s care.  

 

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