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Sunday, June 26, 2022

NSW premier rectifies palliative care let-down with timely $743m fix

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Palliative care in NSW will receive a $743 million boost as Premier Dominic Perrottet makes good on his promise to fix end-of-life care, making amends for failing on the issue when treasurer.

Perrottet says it’s the most important budget announcement he’s ever made, after promising to improve palliative care during debate on voluntary assisted dying, which he opposed, but was legalised last month.

“There was no negotiation when it came to palliative care in this year’s budget,” he said on Thursday.

“It was never about the dollars, it was about matching the commitment to say that whoever you are … you will have the care and support that you need.”

The money is on top of the $300m already spent in NSW each year on palliative care, with the first-year funding of the new package to be revealed in the budget on June 21.

The additional funding will increase significantly over time, growing to an additional $339 million in the fifth year.

During the voluntary assisted dying debate in November, Perrottet acknowledged he’d “failed in my former capacity as treasurer to address this issue”.

“I made that commitment that I would rectify the mistakes of the past … I want the best package possible that provides the greatest support that we can to people as they come to their end of life,” he said.

“By the end of it, we would have more than doubled the investment in palliative care annually in our state and that will make a world of difference.”

Regional Health Minister Bronnie Taylor, a former palliative care nurse, said the funding package would strengthen the career pathways for people becoming palliative carers.

“It is actually one of the most rewarding professions to ever work in,” she said.

The increased investment in palliative care will attract more healthcare professionals, Taylor said.

“When they know that investment is there and that specialty is there and that it’s valued … it actually becomes an incredible career opportunity,” she said.

The funding will provide another 600 carers including nurses, doctors and support staff, as well as boost hospital capacity for palliative care, at a cost of $650 million over five years.

The remaining $93 million in the package is for infrastructure.

Westmead and Nepean hospitals in Sydney’s west will get dedicated palliative care units and regional facilities will be refurbished or redeveloped.

While hospitals will receive some of the funding, Perrottet said it was also important to provide home care.

“For many people who come to their end of life, that’s where they want to be,” he said.

Treasurer Matt Kean said more people will be able to live at home and close to loved ones while they receive care thanks to the increased funding.

“It will improve access to new treatments, world-leading pain management services and medications, and community-based services to reduce unnecessary stays in hospitals,” he said.


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