Palliative Care funding attracting important attention

On 9 June 2022, the previous NSW Government announced a $743 million funding boost to Palliative Care in NSW over a five year period, this announcement received bipartisan support in NSW Parliament at the time. The package included $650 million to employ an extra 600 palliative care nurses, allied health professionals, doctors, and support staff, improve hospital care and community health services for people with a life-limiting illness, and to strengthen equity and access in rural, regional and remote areas.

Last month the new Government announced their first state budget for 2023/24.  In the days following the State budget announcement, media began reporting that the initial $743 million committed to Palliative Care by the previous government was going to be cut by $150 million. This was then confirmed by Premier Chris Minns during a radio interview on 2GB in which he stated that the $150 million would be redirected to the general health budget and used to recruit new nurses.

While the announcement of funding for new nurses will always be welcome by the broader healthcare sector, Palliative Care NSW believes that this should not be at the expense of the existing palliative care workforce, services and programs that require ongoing funding to ensure equitable access to high quality palliative care and end-of-life care for the residents of NSW.

As the peak body, Palliative Care NSW has expressed our disappointment to the NSW Ministry of Health regarding this cut to dedicated Palliative Care funding and we continue to work closely with the Ministry to understand how the remaining $593M of the original $743M committed by the previous government will be used.

This announcement has attracted criticism from across the community, members of parliament including some from within the NSW government.

“I urge the Government to look again at this matter to find a way to fully restore the $150 million to palliative care and palliative care services in this State, without delay. I know that it can be achieved”.

Hon Greg Donnelly MLC, Private Members’ Statement, 11 October 2023

The demand for palliative care and end-of-life care is increasing and will continue to increase rapidly as the population ages. Now is the time for the government to invest and plan for this increased demand to ensure that palliative care is accessible for all NSW residents who do receive a life-limiting diagnosis. Palliative Care NSW, on behalf of our members want to ensure the government is taking a proactive approach to what no one can deny is coming our way – a significant increase in the demand for palliative care and end-of-life care in NSW.

With this reallocation of funds to the recruitment of new nurses, Palliative Care NSW will be strongly advocating that all new nurses recruited will undertake mandatory palliative care and end-of-life awareness training as part of their NSW Health induction process. The intention of this is to increase awareness of when palliative care should be considered, how to recognise someone is approaching the end of their life, the discussions to have and the action to take by nurses across all disciplines and specialities. This would improve early uptake of palliative care for those with a life-limiting illness – proven to have a positive impact on the journey faced by patients and their loved ones.

Palliative Care NSW will continue to keep our members updated as we hear of any further funding developments or announcements.

If you would like to share anything with us in relation to Palliative Care funding, please email or reach out to Kirsty Blades (CEO) or Megan Asbury (Deputy CEO) on 02 8076 5600.