Damning findings on health outcomes in NSW

The NSW Legislative Council is expected to vote today on passing Alex Greenwich’s euthanasia and assisted suicide bill. If successful, it will proceed to a debate over amendments.

It is extraordinary that Members of the Legislative Council are still willing to vote in favour of this bill just days after an inquiry conducted by Council members themselves revealed the shocking state of healthcare in rural, regional and remote parts of the state.

The report – which runs for more than 300 pages – details the findings of an inquiry conducted over an 18-month period.

Put simply, the report finds that a person’s health outcomes, including their life expectancy, depends on their postcode.

While the report is worth reading in full, here are some of its most damning findings.

Finding 1 – Rural, regional and remote patients have significantly poorer health outcomes, greater incidence of chronic disease and greater premature deaths when compared to their counterparts in metropolitan areas.

Finding 2 – Residents in rural, regional and remote New South Wales have inferior access to health and hospital services, especially for those living in remote towns and locations and Indigenous communities, which has led to instances of patients receiving substandard levels of care.

Finding 3 – Residents living in rural, regional and remote communities face significant financial challenges in order to access diagnosis, treatment and other health services compared to those living in metropolitan cities.

Finding 4 – Rural, regional and remote medical staff are significantly under-resourced when compared with their metropolitan counterparts, exacerbating health inequities.

Finding 9 – There is a critical shortage of health professionals across rural, regional and remote communities resulting in staffing deficiencies in hospitals and health services.

Finding 12 – Cancer patients in New South Wales face significant out of pocket costs which is resulting in patients experiencing severe financial distress and/or choosing to skip life-saving cancer treatments.

Finding 13 – There is a lack of palliative care and palliative care services in rural, regional and remote New South Wales.

Finding 16 – The introduction and use of virtual care is an important new innovation. However, it must not be used as a basis to reduce or substitute for face-to-face health services and care, but rather complement and enhance them.

Finding 19 – There is a lack of transparency and accountability of NSW Health and the rural and regional Local Health Districts in terms of governance.

Finding 20 – There is a culture of fear operating within NSW Health in relation to employees speaking out and raising concerns and issues about patient safety, staff welfare and inadequate resources.

If you are outraged by these findings, contact NSW MLCs now and tell them that this dire situation must be fixed before a vote on euthanasia is allowed to occur. Anything else is unconscionable!