Media release

Review of end-of-life funding needed

Ahead of the June state budget, we need to know where the palliative care funding announced in 2022 is being used.

The Queensland Government must use the state budget to not only invest in end-of-life care but to outline where the $171 million promised in the 2022-23 budget has been allocated.

The AMA Queensland Budget Submission 2024-25 calls for an urgent investment in aged and end-of-life care, including palliative care and voluntary assisted dying (VAD) services.

“All Queenslanders deserve the dignity and comfort of high-quality health services as they age and reach the end of their lives,” AMA Queensland President Dr Maria Boulton said.

“While the palliative care investment promise two years ago was welcome, it is unclear what programs have been supported and how much remaining funding is yet to be allocated.

“We are calling for an independent review of the rural and remote community-based palliative care services awarded by tender to deliver the $171 million.

“The Government must ensure all unallocated funds are reinvested in end-of-life care with a focus on services in First Nations communities to allow community members to die with dignity on country.

“We are also calling for increased investment in aged care, particularly to support GPs and other doctors who continue to dedicate themselves to these patients despite woefully inadequate funding from both the state and federal governments.

“Access to palliative care services must be expanded. This includes increasing the eligibility access period from the current three months to 12 months and expanding the Medical Aids Subsidy Scheme (MASS) to include the last 12 months of life, not six as present.

“End-of-life care must include VAD services that meet demand. There is a significant gap between supply and community demand, particularly in regional, rural and remote communities.

“Doctors and health services need VAD-specific funding, particularly for community-based services, longer GP consultations and for practitioners to travel to outer-area patients. VAD must have its own separate funding stream in the budget that does not reduce funding for other end-of-life services.

“In addition, the federal government must urgently fix outdated legislation that makes it illegal for patients to use telehealth for VAD consultations.

“This legislation, which dates back to the days of landlines and fax machines, is causing increased distress for patients living in remote areas or who are too sick to travel. Technically, it means patients cannot even ring or email VAD support services.

“This is a distressing and ludicrous situation that clearly must be addressed.”

The AMA Queensland Budget Submission 2024-25 can be read here.

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