Palliative Care Services

Wednesday May 31, 2023

Mr BELL (Mount Gambier) (14:52): My question is for the Minister for Health. Will Mount Gambier be considered as part of the $7.5 million pilot program for making palliative care more accessible for South Australians, that was announced by the federal government yesterday?


The Hon. C.J. PICTON (Kaurna—Minister for Health and Wellbeing) (14:52): I thank the member for Mount Gambier for his genuine interest in relation to palliative care which he certainly raises with me often in regard to the need for improved palliative care services in terms of both the Limestone Coast and across regional South Australia.

As the member alluded to, there is now a partnership between the state government and the federal government, where the federal government is funding $7.5 million for palliative care work in terms of improving pathways and guidance for people if they are going through a palliative care pathway. As we know, it is obviously an awful time in terms of somebody's end of life, but it can be better if we can provide them with the appropriate palliative care support but, even then, it can be a very complicated and confusing time with respect to the number of different agencies or pathways to go down and people to connect with.

It was identified that, if we can provide more support in terms of having navigation available to provide support for people, then that can—as well as obviously the service provision—provide better end of life care for people. This $7.5 million is going to be used in terms of navigators: people who will be employed to provide that support of helping people through different pathways, connecting them with the services that they need to identify.

My advice is that that will be in both metropolitan and regional areas, and I will follow up, and take on notice, how it relates particularly to the Limestone Coast and Mount Gambier. However, there is additional support that will be provided across the state as well. A number of different resources are going to be produced that will make it easier for people: a dedicated website that focuses on this issue. It really can provide that one-stop shop of information that people can have confidence in. If they go to that source of information, there can be readily available all the different pathways and supports that they need for their family members at that difficult end-of-life stage.

In addition to that, of course, we are also providing—as one of our election commitments, as part of our commitment to 300 more nurses across the system—10 of those nurses who were identified specifically in relation to palliative care support. Upon coming to government and identifying what a huge need there was in regional areas for palliative care, where there was quite a discrepancy between the nursing support provided for in-home palliative care in the city and the country, we have dedicated all of those 10 additional nursing positions to regional areas. They are in the process of being hired already. I understand some have been hired and they are spread right across the country areas to make sure that we have an equitable number of palliative care dedicated nurses right across the state.

In addition to that, we are working towards—and this is something that was raised initially by the member for Light, so I thank him for it—looking at a statewide level, and conducting a review where the Health Performance Council, led by Professor Stephen Duckett, is looking at palliative care across the state. We think there is a timely opportunity to look at how we can improve palliative care for everybody across South Australia. I think that there are benefits not only in terms of being at the end of life for somebody where there are difficulties that families go through but also for our broader health system if we can improve this situation.

In addition, there is one other element that we are providing in palliative care as one of our election commitments, and that is additional support for pharmacies to have on availability palliative care drugs where there has been an issue with them being difficult to provide. So thank you very much to the member for the question.