More work to be done to improve palliative care access

Palliative Care Australia (PCA) CEO Rohan Greenland says the time is rapidly approaching when all governments will need to substantially invest in palliative care as Australia’s ageing population increases and people continue to live longer with multiple chronic conditions.

Mr Greenland said with the release of the updated National Palliative Care Strategy in February this year, all Australian governments made a commitment to ensure evidence-based, quality palliative care was available to everyone who required it.

However, this week’s budget fell short on new funding for palliative care.

“Without a significant investment of funding and new models of care, under-served populations such as rural and remote Australians, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, culturally and linguistically diverse groups and people living with dementia or a disability, will continue to miss out on the benefits of palliative care,” Mr Greenland said.

“PCA’s vision to enable access to quality palliative care for all Australians who require it by 2030 is a good foundation for systematic workforce and funding reforms.

“PCA is pleased to see a number of the budget announcements that will improve quality of life and treatment options for people living with a life-limiting illness.

“This Budget also provides for a range of programs funded in the aged care sector that should include mechanisms to increase the provision of quality palliative care to the 60,000 Australians who die in aged care services each year.

“Particularly important is the aged care workforce strategy to ensure that aged care services have the right skill mix to be able to meet the palliative care needs of consumers, to reduce unnecessary transfers to hospital, and support staff to provide care to individuals and their families at the end of their lives.

“The clear focus in this Budget on investing in processes that support quality and safety for those accessing aged care services is important, however, palliative care remains absent from the new Aged Care Quality Standards,” said Mr Greenland.