New palliative care specialist positions funded in regional NSW

Western NSW Local Health District (LHD) is to receive a new palliative care specialist as part of a $3.06 million investment to improve care and choices for patients.

It’s one of nine rural and regional areas to be included in the funding, which has been called “great news, not only for Dubbo but for the surrounding areas”.

Health minister Brad Hazzard and parliamentary secretary for health Leslie Williams said Far West was also among the nine LHDs where the specialist position would be funded.

Mrs Williams made the announcement at Dubbo Hospital on Monday, flanked by Western NSW LHD chief executive Scott McLachlan, who welcomed the funding as “an incredible shot in the arm”.

The funding is part of the NSW government’s biggest ever palliative care investment of $100 million over the next four years, including $17.4 million in 2017-18 – on top of about $210 million spent on these services each year.

I think that’s [the investment] great news, not only for Dubbo but for the surrounding areas.

Parliamentary secretary for regional and rural health Leslie Williams

“The NSW government is committed to investing in palliative care right across the health system so that patients have real choices in the care they receive at the end of their life,” Mrs Williams said.

She said her focus had been making sure that when patients really needed help at the end of life, they could be provided with services and support “no matter what their postcode”.

“I think that’s [the investment] great news, not only for Dubbo but for the surrounding areas,” Mrs Williams said.

Cancer Council NSW has long been campaigning for more specialist palliative care doctor and nurse positions, a push that people from Dubbo have supported.

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The 2017-18 Budget also committed $795,000 for two rural palliative care relief positions to support specialists and GPs in hospital and in the community.

An expression of interest will be undertaken to identify the Local Health District/Specialty Networks to host the two relief positions.

Dubbo MP Troy Grant said the investment would better support palliative care staff, who were at the heart of delivering compassionate care.

“This investment in the rural and regional palliative care workforce demonstrates our firm commitment to do all we can to support patients, as well as their families, at this most difficult time,” he said.

Mr McLachlan said the LHD had one palliative care specialist based at Orange, and visiting palliative care specialists, but none based at Dubbo.

“It’s [the announcement] an incredible shot in the arm for our palliative care network right across our region, that is a network of clinicians that I think is second to none,” he said.

Mr Hazzard said the NSW government was delivering on a record budget commitment to provide better and more access to excellent palliative care services.

“Providing first-class palliative care in every part of the state is a key priority for the NSW Liberals and Nationals government and this record investment will significantly strengthen the palliative care workforce, particularly in regional and rural areas,” he said.