A group of experienced, palliative medicine physicians in Queensland has revealed the alarming condition of palliative care services in the state.
In its submission to the Queensland end-of-life inquiry, the Queensland Specialist Palliative Care Services Medical Directors’ Group, offered a grim picture of the current availability of palliative care in Queensland. The doctors said:
- There are regional, rural and remote communities with no direct access to palliative care;
- The availability of home equipment is dependent on a postcode lottery;
- Many patients die before their palliative care package is approved;
- Those who need urgent palliative care will often not have their needs met if help is required outside of business hours;
- Queensland needs 92.94 full-time equivalent palliative medicine specialist positions. It currently has 38.4, leaving doctors to speak of “a clear capacity-demand gap that can no longer be ignored”; and
- several state government-funded palliative care reviews and scoping studies undertaken in the last decade “to understand palliative care service provision in Queensland and to look at planning for the future” have not been made publicly available.
The doctors’ complaints about the state of palliative care in Queensland is, unfortunately, a similar story to what we have heard in other states that have, or re attempting to, legalise euthanasia.
When it legalised euthanasia and assisted suicide, Victoria had the lowest rate of palliative carers per capita in Australia.
Western Australia, currently looking at introducing euthanasia and assisted suicide, has the lowest number of publicly funded in-patient palliative care beds per capita, with access to palliative care being limited in rural areas and almost non-existent in remote areas.
Queenslanders deserve better than this. They deserve governments that will be transparent about its secret reports on the state of palliative care, and address the urgent need in this area before offering its sick and dying lethal drugs.