Palliative Care Queensland

Dying Queenslanders A Low Priority

“Caring for dying Queenslanders must be a very low priority for the Queensland Government if the planned closure of 10 palliative care beds at Canossa Hospital on Brisbane’s Southside proceeds”, says Palliative Care Queensland President, Associate Professor Rohan Vora. “As promised by Health Minister Paul Lucas, these beds must not close until the 10 replacement beds open at QE11.

Associate Professor Vora, a palliative care physician from the Gold Coast, advised that only two days ago in the Federal Senate, a motion had been moved to enshrine the right of all Australians to access quality, modern palliative care when required. He is appalled that at the same time, Health Minister Paul Lucas tried to justify the closure of 10 publicly funded palliative care beds to cover up a hole in the budget.

“We know that closing palliative care beds does not save money. It only results in dying people clogging up emergency departments and acute medical ward beds where staff are already too busy or inadequately trained to provide the specialist palliative care that these people deserve.

According to Associate Professor Vora, dying Queenslanders are suffering more and more because the Government has no end of life policy, and unlike other states, Queensland has no statewide plan for providing palliative care. He further suggested that Queensland Health needed to invest far more time and money into developing population based policies that will ensure that quality, dignity and comfort are guaranteed in the last 12 months of life.

“Because there is a growing apathy on the part of Queensland Health to develop a plan to manage this crisis, many would agree that Queensland is fast becoming one of the worst places to die in Australia”.

Associate Professor Vora advised that in 2009, Queensland Health commissioned a project to review the palliative care sector in Queensland, but the findings of the report were never released to public. He also advised that funding to palliative care services across Queensland has rarely increased over the last 10 years, despite an increase in demand of up to 25% per year, with growing numbers of dying Queenslanders finding it difficult to access specialist palliative care services.

Palliative Care Queensland is the peak body for palliative care in Queensland, representing the interests and aspirations of all who share the ideal of quality care at the end of life. Palliative Care Queensland has almost 300 members, most of whom are specialist palliative care doctors and nurses.

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