Inquiry calls for regional end-of-life funding boost
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.