Locals welcome NSW government funding for palliative care

Inverell Breast Cancer Support Group president Jan O'Neill said palliative care was all about helping people reach the end of their lives in "the best possible way".
Inverell Breast Cancer Support Group president Jan O'Neill said palliative care was all about helping people reach the end of their lives in "the best possible way".

A record funding boost for palliative care in NSW, announced as part of the state’s 2017-18 budget, has been welcomed by local advocates. 

“The NSW Government’s announcement of an additional $100 million in palliative care services across the state is great news for Hunter New England Health,” HNE Health chief executive Michael DiRienzo said.

“The record funding will see two additional palliative care nurses assigned to our district and scholarships made available to upskill many, many more,” he said.

“It would be wonderful to think that the rural areas are going to have this boost towards peaceful and dignified deaths for people that are in palliative care,” Inverell Breast Cancer Support Group president Jan O’Neill said.

She hoped the funding would have a direct impact on the Inverell community. 

An advocate for improved end-of-life services in town, Mrs O’Neill was pleased to hear that palliative care is part of the approved plans for the Inverell District Hospital redevelopment. 

“I think it is so important, with the incidence of cancer particularly in the area, that a lot is put into oncology and palliative care,” she said. 

Mrs O’Neill said palliative care staff had a very difficult job, and needed extensive training in order to handle a wide variety of challenges. 

“It’s important for the person who is dying, but it’s also important for their family who is watching it happen, and you would hope that it would happen in the most peaceful and dignified fashion,” she said.

She said palliative care was about dignity, peace and comfort for those reaching the end of their lives. 

Mr DiRienzo said he looked forward to further announcements on enhancements to palliative care services in coming months.    

How the $100 million will be spent in NSW                         

  • Palliative care training for 300 nurses and allied health staff ($900,000).
  • 300 scholarships for rural and regional staff to enhance palliative care skills ($300,000).
  • An additional six palliative care specialists in rural and regional areas ($2.4 million).
  • Two specialist positions to provide relief to other specialists in rural and regional areas ($795,000).
  • An additional 30 palliative care nurses providing care in hospitals, homes and nursing homes ($5 million).
  • Developing and implementing comprehensive and integrated palliative care services, in line with community expectations and need ($1 million).
  • Improving medication management for palliative care patients through community pharmacy initiatives ($200,000).

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