Doctors urge Federal Government to commit funding to end-of-life care

palliativemedicineThe Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) is calling on the Federal Government to commit to secure, long-term funding to improve the availability and delivery of palliative and end-of-life care services.

“It is crucial that adequate resources are allocated towards supporting patients wishing to die at home, in a hospice or in a residential aged care facility,” RACP President Dr Catherine Yelland said. 

“We call on the Federal Government to commit to secure, long-term funding to improve palliative and end-of-life care services.” 

As outlined in the RACP’s pre-budget submission, it is widely acknowledged that too often, end-of-life care is not meeting the needs of patients and their loved ones. 

“If patients nearing the end of life are not identified and their needs and wishes are not respected, inappropriate and even harmful investigations and treatments may be provided in the last weeks, days or even hours of life,” explained Dr Yelland.   

“To ensure sustained improvement in end-of-life care, it is imperative that all state and territory governments endorse palliative care and end-of-life care as a key priority for the Council of Australian Governments Health Council agenda.

“We want the government to support the development of models of care that improve the provision of palliative care services in non-hospital settings, ensuring that aged care facilities are equipped to provide the high levels of care required by residents at the end of their lives.”

The submission also highlights the need for non-cancer services in hospitals and in non-hospital settings such as residential aged care facilities, as well as in rural and remote communities. 

Recent funding has been allocated to palliative care through the National Specialist Palliative Care and Advance Care Planning Advisory Services project, the Greater Choice for At Home Palliative Care Measure and the new funding allocated to the National Palliative Care Projects grants initiative. 

The RACP recognises these important contributions of national palliative care projects but said more needs to be done. 

“We welcome the recent funding, these measures will help to greatly improve quality, coordination and access to palliative care. However, we need the Federal Government to commit to secure, long-term funding to facilitate further progress and ensure that national palliative care initiatives continue in the future,” said Dr Yelland. 
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