"A cruel blow to those most in need of care".
That's how Australian Medical Association NSW President Dr Michael Bonning describes the Minns Labor Government's slashing of $150 million from palliative care funding in this year's Budget.
The former Liberal government committed $743 million in last year's Budget to fund both capital improvements and an additional 600 palliative care doctors, nurses and health staff. This was welcomed by the then Opposition Leader Chris Minns, who said that "change needed to come, and I congratulate the Premier on that initiative".
Despite Mr Minns' initial support for the funding, Labor's first Budget rips out $150 million from this palliative care funding.
Dr Bonning of the AMA goes on to say:
"When patients reach the stage of palliative care they are at their most vulnerable. They have reached a stage in life when they need and deserve enormous respect and support. To take that away from them is mean and quite frankly, unthinkable."
The Government is in complete disarray over these cuts. A few weeks ago, Labor Upper House member Greg Donnelly urged his Government to reverse the cuts. Another Labor MP Hugh McDermott says he wants palliative care funding increased further, not cut. Last week the Premier tried to defend the cuts. The Health Minister instead pretends there are no cuts at all.
The feedback from citizens across NSW who have recently lost a loved one and been assisted by palliative care nurses has been overwhelming admiration of the nurses, their empathy and support and the comfort this provided families during their time of grief.
The NSW Opposition is calling on the Minns Labor Government to reverse the cuts and restore the full funding to palliative care, so that vulnerable patients nearing the end of their life can have the dignity they deserve, and their families can have the support they deserve.
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