Page 5037 - Week 12 - Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video

The ACT will soon have an opportunity, through the drafting of the next ACT palliative care strategy, to ensure services are of a high standard and meet the needs of the people who need them. The current strategy covers 2007 to 2011 and is about to come to an end. It is important that the government, as it moves to the next phase, takes this opportunity to examine the lessons from the past four years and gathers evidence about best practice and innovative models to assist with planning for the future. The ACT is recognised as having a high standard of palliative care services, but it is important that we maintain those high standards.

During the debate about whether the Little Company of Mary should sell Calvary hospital and buy the ACT’s only hospice, Clare Holland House, there was considerable debate about the importance of palliative care and the manner in which it is provided. Questions were raised generally about the future of palliative care services and the impact an ageing population will have on these services. There were also concerns raised about whether current services meet people’s needs and whether or not the sale of the hospice was involved. These were important questions that deserved discussion.

The ACT government did say in late 2009 that it would commission an independent review of palliative care services in the ACT to assist with resolving these issues. I wrote to the Minister for Health in February 2010 asking for the independent review to consider matters regarding demand, best practice models of care, service providers and the testing of contracts. The Greens at the time were concerned that a non-government provider would have a long-term monopoly over palliative care in the ACT. When the sale of the hospice did not proceed, neither did the independent review.

The Greens asked the Minister for Health why the review did not proceed, as we believed there was merit in the review, despite the sale of the hospice not proceeding. The minister replied that the Little Company of Mary had commissioned an internal review of its palliative care services in Canberra and that this was sufficient. The key issue which this misses is the point of the review being independent. Given the government is about to begin working on the next four-year strategy, the independent review should occur.

In preparing for this motion today my office consulted with community groups that have a direct interest in palliative care. All groups expressed their support for this motion and the independent review process. In fact, much of the discussion with the groups was on what the independent review would need to discuss, as this was something which they brought to the discussion—basically agreeing that this review should occur and saying, “Let’s go to what should be included.” Some of these issues included funding, diversity in services and infrastructure.

The community groups also made it clear that the ACT government would need to get an expert from interstate to come in and do the independent review, given many local stakeholders have involved themselves in the debate about the sale of the hospice. In paragraph (2) of the motion I have set out a number of suggested items that the independent review could inquire into. They include demand and supply, diversity of

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video