Palliative care services in WA will get a $41 million funding boost from the McGowan Government ahead of its push to introduce euthanasia laws into State Parliament this year.
The package, which will be announced in today’s State Budget, will increase WA’s community palliative care services, which have been described as “underfunded” and “hit and miss”, over the next year.
Doctors have previously called on the Government to improve palliative care before legalising voluntary assisted dying for fear it could be unnecessarily and over-used because of a lack of palliative care services.
Palliative Care WA, the State’s peak body for palliative care, has estimated there is an annual $100 million funding shortfall in the State.
Health Minister Roger Cook said the Government supported the joint select committee’s report last year on end of life choices which called for better palliative care in WA.
“This $41 million package will ensure people with any life-limiting or terminal condition to live their lives as fully and as comfortably as possible closer to home, their friends, families and loved ones,” Mr Cook said.
The new funding will bring the Government’s spending on palliative care services to $206.2 million over the next four years.
There will be a 74 per cent increase in funding for regional palliative care services, including more money for a new 38-bed residential aged and palliative care facility in Carnarvon and an after-hours phone health service.
Australian Medical Association WA president Omar Khorshid said this year if palliative care did not improve before euthanasia was legalised, people may end their lives without having had access to high-quality care.
The joint select committee heard evidence that about 10,000 people a year in WA would benefit from palliative care.
Silver Chain provides in-home hospice care services to about 3000 people in the metropolitan area every year. Its then-general manager WA Mark Cockayne told the committee that they had to discharge dying people from their service in order to see new referrals.