The peak body for Catholic health and aged care providers is calling on the South Australian Government to properly investigate the cost of a world class palliative care system in the state before proceeding any further in introducing assisted suicide laws.
Catholic Health Australia says the answer to treating South Australians suffering from serious and terminal illness is compassionate care that relieves pain but also supports patients and their families from the moment of diagnosis through to death.
Currently between 6,000 and 10,000 South Australians require palliative care treatment but there is a large funding gap to treat the growing number of people who want to be treated in their own home.
The first finding of a Parliamentary inquiry held last year into end of life choices concluded that: “Palliative Care is a critical part of our health and wellbeing system although it requires a greater level of funding to ensure that it provides more consistent and equitable access.”
Chief Executive of CHA Pat Garcia said: “South Australians deserve choice. Not a choice between pain or death – but a further option to access palliative care – a life supporting choice that manages pain using the latest technologies and analgesics and that research shows improves and extends quality of life.
“We are calling on the Marshall Government to thoroughly examine what level of funding would be required to provide South Australians with consistent and equitable access to palliative care before any final vote on assisted suicide legislation.”
“Parliamentarians must first understand what other models of care can manage pain for terminally ill patients.”
“We understand that no one wants to see their loved ones suffer unnecessarily at the end of life but this Bill is not the answer – assisted suicide laws ignores the causes of the suffering of people that can so often be effectively addressed with the appropriate palliative and end of life care.”
“Compassionate care that supports living, supports family grieving and extends life and reduces pain should be available for every South Australian before we consider enacting these laws.”