March update: Newcomers and nerves

Status report

Fresh air: Shakeups in both the State and Federal Health Ministries following the appointment of Gladys Berejiklian as Premier are cause for quiet confidence. The new Health Minister, Brad Hazzard, has already agreed to speak at the Cancer Council’s Northern Sydney palliative care campaign launch, occurring Tuesday May 16 at 7:30pm – save the date. On the floor too, Hazzard has spoken eloquently about the need for more palliative care specialist doctors and nurses in response to a question from Greg Piper – an exchange which led to the abrupt removal of Clayton Barr from the chamber. You can read the transcript here, as well as why Jillian Skinner will not be missed in some parts of rural NSW.

Talk of the town: Tamworth has made headlines recently thanks to the ABC, as news of the woeful ‘1960s standards’ of palliative care in the region reached a national audience through the 7pm News, and in-depth interviews on ABC Radio. In Southern NSW, discussions about the state of care in Bega and the South Coast were aired. Timed with ministerial changes, this coverage has proven persuasive in Parliament.

Nerves tested: Changes have shaken palliative care services in Hunter New England, with the loss of the wonderful, innovative Susan Newton who had been in Maitland for 10 years – Newton is the creator of The Virtual Hospice programme for patients, their families, and caretakers – and Professor Katy Clark from Newcastle, following her appointment as Director of Palliative Care for the Northern Sydney LHD. Professor Clark’s Newcastle position remains vacant. Meanwhile, we exposed threats to repeal the Gold Standard 24/7 palliative care nursing service in Newcastle early this year. With great support from the local media and members Tim Crakanthorp and Greg Piper, as well as the ABC, Minister Brad Hazzard has since safeguarded the service.

Time to act: In light of these stories above, I urge you to collect signatures on our petition to increase funding for palliative care across the state. Thanks to a combined effort with the Cancer Council’s CanAct network and the I Care About Palliative Care campaign, we are currently sitting at 84,779 signatures – each time we get 10,000 we force another debate in Parliament. You can read more about our combined effort with the Cancer Council in Dubbo here, as well as CanAct’s stories of palliative care across NSW, and palliative care pledge.

Vital reading

‘Ten Questions’ by the Nurses and Midwives Association: Pertinent handouts for people about to enter an aged care facility.

Have your say on Single Aged Care Quality Framework Consultations’: A development to watch and challenge if the proposed changes could adversely affect the care that people in aged care facilities receive.

On Respect’: A terrific piece by the EOL Professionals blog which explains why palliative care is not everyone’s business.

Stop Accepting Death’: Dr Diane Meier talks to Stat News about how overthinking our own mortality can sap joy from life now.

The Death Talker: What we need to know to help us talk about death’: A moving and informative tome by palliative nurse Molly Carlile. Available online via Amazon, Booktopia, or in your local bookstore.

Aged Care Providers Central to Community Led Palliative Care’: The Australian Ageing Agenda explores why GPs can’t be asked to wear two hats when it comes to palliative care.

How Caring For a Dying Husband Made Life Worth Living’: The best seven months of Tracy Grant’s life were the months she spent caring for her husband with terminal cancer (PBS video).

A Word With… Yvonne McMaster’: I was recently profiled for Health Consumers NSW, the result being this lovely piece on my (and our) advocacy efforts.

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