Page 516 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 17 February 2016

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Madam Speaker, we have all been touched by the individual stories that form part of the history of this issue for our city. Examples like this one perhaps demonstrate why it is better for us to ensure our debates in this place do not traverse into the detail and the circumstances of individuals.


Debate resumed.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Deputy Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Capital Metro, Minister for Health, Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Minister for the Environment and Climate Change) (3.24): I thank Ms Porter for her motion and her ongoing commitment to issues associated with end-of-life care. She has been, and I am sure she will remain, a very passionate advocate in this space.

In our most recent budget there was funding to supplement existing palliative care services within the ACT and the surrounding region. This funding builds the non-hospital capacity of palliative care services in consultation with specialist palliative care community services, local GPs and our community nurses. This includes in-home services designed to keep people in their own homes for longer and in many cases supports end-of-life care at home.

It was only a relatively short time ago that people considered palliative care a speciality that enabled people to die comfortably. Contemporary palliative and end-of-life care is now very much focused on helping people live as full a life as possible by managing medical symptoms and controlling pain issues. People are living longer, partially because of social factors but also because of medical research. The health industry has become so very good at treating and managing conditions that in the past caused a rapid death or a protracted period of illness leading to death.

We recognise that treating people with respect and in a manner that protects their dignity is an equally important role for health services at all stages of a person’s life. However, treatment and management advances are not cures, so people often experience a number of conditions that need to be managed. Palliative and end-of-life care is increasingly becoming a field of medical expertise that considers the multiple needs of patients and plans the best multidisciplinary care options in the most appropriate setting for a patient’s ongoing treatment.

The ACT offers a number of palliative care services across the region that are continually reviewed and improved over time. At Canberra Hospital there are expert practitioners and a nurse-led consultative service. From March this year a palliative care staff specialist will commence and be based at Canberra Hospital together with a registrar employed through Clare Holland House. This service is a consultative and supportive service and will provide care across the Canberra Hospital to both inpatients as well as outpatients. The service also provides a collaborative conduit between the acute care facility of the hospital and the hospice and home-based care.

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