No more excuses

“Big Four” accounting firm KPMG has found that a significant investment in palliative care will actually save governments health care costs.

In the Investing to Save – The economics of increased investment in palliative care in Australia report, released today, KPMG said that over the last 20 years, a large body of reviews, reports and inquiries have highlighted shortcomings in palliative care and offered recommendations for reform, but have not offered an economic incentive for governments to do so.  Rather than speaking of the “social and moral imperative to improve the end-of-life for all Australians,” this report presents the financial imperative to do so.

The report details cost savings for government in emergency department visits and transport, hospitalisation stays and ICU admissions.

KPMG predicts that, if implemented, its recommendations which will require an investment of an additional $350 million per year in palliative care, would save governments $460 million, while also improving the quality of death.

The six cost-saving recommendations are simple, focussing on improving access to home and community-based palliative care services, expanding palliative care services in residential aged care, and increasing investment in earlier and more integrated palliative care services in hospitals.

The report also provided a scathing review of the availability of palliative care in this country, saying that “too many Australians with life-limiting conditions miss out on appropriate palliative care.”  The report also found that:

  • Palliative medicine specialist numbers are half of what is expected under a minimum model of care;
  • Less than two percent of people who died in 2017-18 received a Medicare-funded palliative care home visit; and
  • Only 1 in 50 residents in an aged care facility receives palliative care under the Aged Care Funding Instrument.

So far, the Victorian and West Australian governments have ignored the need to improve quality of and access to palliative care, and chosen the “simpler” option of legalising euthanasia and assisted suicide instead.  The perceived cost of improving end-of-life care and offering proper end-of-life choices seemingly too great.

Now, a major accounting firm has shown that it is actually more cost-effective for governments to make significant investments in palliative care.  They have no more excuses to delay.