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Long term investments in palliative care needed as demand grows

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15 November 2013

Long term investments in palliative care needed as demand grows

The Australian Greens said today that a 49% increase in palliative care-related hospital admissions between 2001-02 and 2010-11 underscores the importance of long term investments to ensure people's care choices can be respected and delivered upon.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report 'Palliative care services in Australia 2013' found that there were around 54,500 palliative care related hospital admissions 2010-2011. Half of these were over the age of 75.

"I suspect that many of these people did not want to be in hospital for palliative care, these statistics highlight the need to improve our approach. As our population ages and more people need palliative care, this problem will worsen," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on ageing said today.

"People need to have choices and control over their palliative care, including where they receive it, be it in their own homes, residential care, hospices or hospitals.

"To help provide more choices for patients, the Greens have called for a $15 million investment of additional funding into palliative care over the next four years. This investment would provide a $5 million increase for community care, along with a $10 million contribution into the existing state systems to deal with the increased demand for palliative care.

"We also model legislation for Advanced Care planning. While some advance care planning decisions can be formalised legally via an Advance Care Directive, there is inconsistency between the laws of the States and Territories, so that if a person moves interstate, their wishes may not respected.

"This is an important aspect of care for many patients, and allows them to have control over personal issues. This was a key recommendation of the 2012 Senate Inquiry into Palliative Care.

"Palliative care improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing life-threatening illness. By properly investing and supporting palliative care, we can help ensure that peoples' pain and suffering is minimised," Senator Siewert concluded.