Palliative care boost needed

Nicole SalmeriSouth Western Times

Many of the State’s leading palliative care specialists say services in the South West are critically under-resourced.

Palliative care specialist Dr Carolyn Masarei runs an outpatient clinic in Bunbury and provides end-of-life care to patients across the region.

Dr Masarei said services in the region fell a long way short of what is required.

“As a society, we should not accept that any person is forced to contemplate euthanasia because they are not receiving, or cannot access, quality palliative care in the region in which they reside,” Dr Masarei said.

“In the South West, and across regional WA, palliative care teams are doing their best with the available resources, but sadly they are not at the level which we would want if and when our loved ones need this care.”

Dr Masarei said WA had the smallest number of palliative care services in Australia.

“Including those who work in private practice, there are 15 full-time palliative care specialists in WA and this equates to 0.57 specialists per 100,000 people, which is the lowest ratio in Australia,” she said.

“In order to have one full-time palliative care specialist per 100,000 people – which is at the mid-range of what is required – it would cost $76 million per year.

“This is a long way from what’s currently available.”

WA Palliative Care Specialist Group chairman Anil Tandon said after hours palliative care nursing support was sadly withdrawn from the South West a couple of years ago.

“Palliative care services, particularly in regional WA, need to receive adequate funding and there needs to be care available not just during work hours but also in the evenings and on the weekends,” Mr Tandon said.

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