Public Health advocate Craig Hesketh has made the following statement on Daryl Maguire’s recently released, glossy brochure on the regions palliative care alliance.
I would like to commend the palliative alliance on its attempts to resolve our cities palliative needs. There is no doubt that those who are involved are trying hard to piece together a quality service for those in our community who are facing their last days and to help carers, who are also facing loss and the stress of caring for a loved one.
I do, however, question the need for constant expensive promotion of the alliance with more emphasis on who is backing this partnership than on answering the many questions that this partnership has created. In fact my team has found over twenty un-answered issues that could affect those who need to use this service or the establishment of a hospice.
Glossy pamphlets paid for by taxpayers, as well as expensive four page newspaper articles, have raised suspicions that they have been published to shut down debate rather than answer questions. Of course, how can any individual claim that there are problems with this arrangement when so many important people contributed to the Alliance? I have to ask “Do all of the contributors listed on Mr Maguire’s tax payer sponsored brochure support the public/private alliance proposed framework of services over a public owned and run facility?”
I have been calling for a forum on this most important community issue for some time as I feel more debate is needed as to the final makeup of services in palliative care and for the public and those carers and patients to have their questions answered. This has been ignored.
I still question why Wagga Wagga is using a private / public alliance, when in Berry on the South Coast, you can find an excellent public facility at the Karinya palliative care located at the David Berry Hospital in the Shoalhaven region. It offers nine beds for respite and end of days care. This is also the case with the Nioka Palliative unit located on the grounds of Tamworth hospital. Both are public run facilities that offer respite and end of life beds that are 100% bulk billed. We should also ask why we have given a private hospital control of palliative acute care when they have no emergency department?
My personal involvement in this issue was brought about by seeing loved ones suffer due to an inadequate system to address their needs. They were placed in aged care facilities without a specialist palliative doctor or nurse to administer pain relief and as a result suffered in their last days. My greatest concern is the Forrest Centre proposal could be much the same. Will there be a specialist palliative nurse in residence? As an aged care facility will this service be available for people under 65? Where will loved ones park as there is already limited parking there and at Calvary Hospital? Oh, and who will pay for these beds as Mr McCormack as already stated this is a state issue and there are no funds available. Mr McCormack should know that with aged care facilities funding is a federal issue.
This is not the first time services in this city have been forced into private hands. It seems the model was first struck with cancer care services in our city where public patients are now out of pocket for treatment at the Riverina Cancer Care Centre. If they are to front for treatment at Nowra, Tamworth or Orange Hospitals it would be provided free to all and covered by Medicare. I urge people to call in and visit these facilities if they are in these regions as they will be impressed as to the quality of the public facilities on offer. In the case of Orange Hospital I was amazed at the services on offer at their public hospital and the sheer size and quality of the building for a health district of its size.
Finally I have to ask “Why do Wagga Wagga residents have to pay for treatment and services that are bulk billed in other regions? “Dare I say all of the regions I have compared our services too are swinging seats either State or Federal. Surely a coincidence?