The peak body for Catholic health and aged care providers has called on the South Australian Government to properly investigate the cost of a world-class palliative care system in the state before proceeding with pushing assisted suicide and euthanasia laws through that state.
Catholic Health Australia (CHA) has said that between 6,000 and 10,000 South Australians require palliative care, but there was a large funding gap in providing them the care they need. However, according to the most recent statistics from the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare, South Australia has only 20 palliative medicine physicians to service the thousands and thousands who need their care. With just 1.0 FTE palliative medicine physician per 100,000 population, South Australia ranks the second-lowest amongst Australian states and territories in terms of palliative medicine specialists, and offers only half the 2.0 FTE per 100,000 population benchmark for palliative care.
CHA has pointed out that the very first finding of the South Australian parliamentary inquiry into end of life choices concluded that:
“Palliative Care is a critical part of our health and wellbeing system although it requires a greater level of funding to ensure that it provides more consistent and equitable access.”
CHA Chief Executive, Pat Garcia said that South Australians deserve a choice, not between pain or death, “but a further option to access palliative care – a life supporting choice that manages pain using the latest technologies and analgesics and that research shows improves and extends quality of life.”
“Compassionate care that supports living, supports family grieving and extends life and reduces pain should be available for every South Australian before we consider enacting these laws,” he said.