NSW Government releases findings from Tamworth palliative care roundtable meeting

SPECIAL CARE: Mitch Williams (left) has been rallying for more palliative care specialists in Tamworth, with Lucy Haslam. Photo: Barry Smith

SPECIAL CARE: Mitch Williams (left) has been rallying for more palliative care specialists in Tamworth, with Lucy Haslam. Photo: Barry Smith

TAMWORTH GPs are being placed at the centre of the region’s palliative care shortfall, as the call for additional specialists ramps up.

Local advocate Mitch Williams says it’s an issue which needs a specialist approach.

The NSW government has released the findings from its painstaking roundtable tour speaking to advocates, health professionals and practitioners in every local health district (LHD).

RELATED STORY: Tamworth GPs have banded together to help enhance region's palliative care service

Hunter New England was the only LHD to host two roundtable meetings on palliative care during Leslie Williams’, parliamentary secretary for regional and rural health, listening tour.

From Tamworth’s session, the “GP-driven model of palliative care” was found to be working well and also called “increased support” for the doctors.

Providing funds to enable recruitment was highlighted as a priority issue.

Mr Williams was at the Tamworth roundtable and said GPs were only part of the solution.

“I believe there is a place for GPs in palliative care,” he said.

“Palliative patients have that relationship with GPs over many years and have that element of trust.”

Mr Williams was worried about over-loading the region’s GPs.

“To get in to a GP in Tamworth, you’re generally looking at a week before you see somebody,” he said.

“We still need a specialist approach in the same way with something like renal failure, we go to a specialist.”

The workshop suggested the region should bring in two full-time specialist doctors, supported by four palliative care nurse, which Mr Williams said would be a brilliant outcome.

“We don’t stop until we have those people on the ground,” he said.

RELATED STORY: LEADING health advocate has slammed the state of Tamworth’s palliative care, saying the current staffing numbers are shocking and ludicrous. 

The state government recently pledged $100 million to improve palliative care across NSW during the next four years.

Mr Williams said “New England is so far behind the eight-ball, it will need a big chunk of that money”.

A discussion paper will soon be released calling on the public to provide further feedback.

“The roundtables have revealed what your community thinks should be done to improve palliative care services in your area,” Leslie Williams said.

“Priorities put forward include the need for flexible care, ensuring sufficient local staff are trained and available, and making palliative care services more integrated.

“We now have a deeper understanding of what is working well, what needs improvement and potential local solutions.”

OPINION: The state's palliative care shortfall still in the spotlight

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