In­quiry calls for re­gional end-of-life fund­ing boost

Augusta Margaret River Times - - News - Tom Zaun­mayr End-of-life choices re­port chair­woman Am­ber-Jade San­der­son. What is your ex­pe­ri­ence? Email your let­ters to edi­tor@am­r­times.com.au.

An in­quiry into end-of-life choices in WA has urged the State Gov­ern­ment to boost fund­ing for re­gional pal­lia­tive care ser­vice providers amid re­ports some pa­tients are suf­fer­ing painful deaths.

Amid calls to in­tro­duce vol­un­tary euthana­sia laws, the re­port tabled in State Par­lia­ment last Thurs­day rec­om­mended boosts to fund­ing for re­gional ser­vices and cre­ation of a task force to help draft leg­is­la­tion.

Re­port chair­woman Am­berJade San­der­son said the com­mit­tee had found too many peo­ple were ex­pe­ri­enc­ing pro­found suf­fer­ing as they died.

“This is in part due to in­equitable ac­cess to pal­lia­tive care,” she said. “How­ever, it is clear from the ev­i­dence that even with ac­cess to the best-qual­ity pal­lia­tive care, not all suf­fer­ing can be al­le­vi­ated.

“The cur­rent law­ful op­tions avail­able to peo­ple ex­pe­ri­enc­ing griev­ous and ir­re­me­di­a­ble suf­fer­ing at the end of life are in­ad­e­quate and can be ex­cep­tion­ally dif­fi­cult for the dy­ing per­son and their fam­ily and friends.”

In a sub­mis­sion to the in­quiry, WA Coun­try Health Ser­vices re­vealed sig­nif­i­cant short­com­ings in re­gional pal­lia­tive care ser­vices.

Th­ese in­cluded lim­ited sup­port from spe­cial­ists and no med­i­cal over­sight, co-or­di­na­tion or gov­er­nance of med­i­cal pal­lia­tive care ser­vices. “Pol­icy is also some­what lack­ing and de­vel­op­ing strong pol­icy ap­proaches is a pre-req­ui­site for im­prov­ing and main­tain­ing stan­dards,” WACHS said.

Greens Mem­ber for Mining and Pas­toral Robin Chap­ple said there was a win­dow of op­por­tu­nity to pass leg­is­la­tion in the cur­rent par­lia­ment, if the State Gov­ern­ment chose to do so.

South West MLC Colin Holt said the com­mit­tee had found a strong will to live among West Aus­tralians but a mes­sage of choice for those suf­fer­ing was clear.

“There was also a clear mes­sage to the com­mit­tee that in the fi­nal stages of life, when liv­ing be­comes un­bear­able, there is a de­sire by many to have a quick, peace­ful and pain­less end sur­rounded by loved ones,” he said.

Cab­i­net is now con­sid­er­ing the re­port’s rec­om­men­da­tions.

Pic­ture: Danella Be­vis

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