The road we must take to avoid a palliative care crisis

The road we must take to avoid a palliative care crisis

A blog post written by Camilla Rowland


Palliative care is everyone's right, and people living with a life-limiting illness deserve high-quality care. 

Yet Australians are often forced to miss out on the quality palliative care they need, primarily due to chronic underinvestment.

The recently released 2022 Budget papers correctly reference that between 50 and 90 per cent of the 160,000 people who die in Australia each year would benefit from access to palliative care.

However, the number of people who receive quality palliative care is far below this level.

The modest $29.6 million of funding announcements for palliative care in the Budget was a missed opportunity to provide the adequate investment needed to ensure proper access for all Australians.

To guarantee access to quality palliative care, it was estimated that the Australian Government needed to invest an additional $427.5 million in palliative care each year [1].

Disappointingly, the Budget was almost $400 million short of what is needed.

Continuing to delay adequate investment in palliative care only amplifies the suffering and the financial cost experienced by our communities.

Australia's population is growing and ageing, and many more people will be diagnosed with chronic life-limiting illnesses in the coming years.

The need for palliative care services in Australia is expected to increase by 50 per cent between now and 2035, and double by 2050.[2]

With the demand for palliative care rising rapidly, and without the appropriate resources in place, more and more people will miss out on the care they need at the end of their lives.

Investment in palliative care not only improves health and social outcomes but makes economic sense and an opportunity for governments to generate significant returns.

Australia currently spends almost $8 billion on death each year, which could be reduced significantly with optimal access to palliative care.

People who receive palliative care have fewer hospitalisations, shorter hospital stays, reduced use of Intensive Care Units and fewer visits to Emergency Departments compared with those who do not.

The good news is that we still have time to get ahead of this looming crisis, but we need action now.

Palliative Care Australia's (PCA) Roadmap 2022-27 provides a strong plan for decision-makers to meet Australia's burgeoning need for palliative care.

The Roadmap was developed with input from leading organisations across the sector and details the funding requirements, policy action and initiatives needed to ensure that high-quality palliative care is accessible for all Australians.

PCA will continue to work with Governments to ensure they see the value of quality palliative care, the need for improved access and the benefits of adequate investment.

We are confident these efforts, backed by strong community support, will ensure all Australians receive the quality care they need when and where they need it.

 

Camilla Rowland

Camilla Rowland
Chief Executive Officer
Palliative Care Australia


 

References:

  1. Palliative Care Australia (2021). Palliative Care Australia Roadmap 2022-2027. Retrieved from: https://palliativecare.org.au/publication/palliative-care-australia-roadmap-2022-2027/
  2. KPMG analysis based on KPMG and PCA (2020), Investing to Save: the economics of increased investment in palliative care in Australia. Retrieved from: https://palliativecare.org.au/publication/kpmg-palliativecare-economic-report/
     

 

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The views and opinions expressed in Palliative Perspectives are those of the authors and are not necessarily supported by CareSearch, Flinders University and/or the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care.