OUR SAY: It’s well past time to put palliative care funding into action

WHEN it comes to extending palliative care services at Dubbo and across the state, the time for talk is over and the time for action is here.

In this year’s Budget, the NSW government pledged $100 million towards fixing the state’s palliative care system, including the addition of six new specialists for regional areas.

It’s still unclear how many specialists will be delegated to the Western NSW Local Health District.

Community members at Dubbo have lent their support to the ‘I care for palliative care’ campaign, which is pushing for extra palliative care specialists in NSW.

That drum is now beating louder and louder.

The initial Budget announcement, though welcome, is now something of a distant memory, especially for those in need of increased palliative care services.

Obviously it’s in everyone’s best interests that the money be distributed where it’s most needed, but the question many are asking is: when will it be distributed at all?

The state government had to learn by ear what each region was asking for, taking roundtable meetings to each corner of the state.

When the noise became too much to bear, Macquarie Street announced the $100 million program. It was trumpeted as a record spend and a response to the continued calls from communities around the state.

Widely welcomed at the time, the silence since then has made it easy to hear the drums of discontent beating once again.

It also comes with the NSW auditor-general’s scathing analysis of NSW Health’s handling of palliative care chiming in.

“NSW Health’s approach to planning and evaluating palliative care is not effectively coordinated,” the report said.

“NSW Health has a limited understanding of the quantity and quality of palliative care services across the state,” it continued.

Enough headlines, enough announcements, enough song and dance, enough call and response: it’s time to put the money to use.

Time is absolutely of the essence when it comes to palliative care, so why are we taking so much of it when the problems are there and a multi-million dollar answer has been laid down?

We urge the state government to allocate this vital funding now, before it’s too late for more of those who will need it.