It’s not as simple as numbers, says Linda

Linda Hansen, Palliative Care NSW

“Oh dear!”  Linda Hansen groaned as she looked at yesterday’s posting.

Linda is the Executive Officer of Palliative Care NSW and every time a story comes out, like the one I posted yesterday, she frets that the good people working in palliative care will feel undervalued.

That posting picked up an Australian ABC’s story about a serious lack of palliative care resources in Tamworth, a city in rural Australia. 

“When we criticise the standard of palliative care in a community, those who deliver the service can feel unsupported. Yet they’re the ones who are working so hard to make a difference,” Linda said.

“It’s not as simple as numbers and it’s not just about governments allocating money to services. If a government provides funding for extra specialist doctors and nurses but there is no one to fill those positions – what does that tell the government?” 

It tells governments that they’ve tried and that’s enough, so they move on to the next financial hot-spot.  

“We have to take a step back. It’s death – so I understand that’s not a subject for everyone who works in health. 

“But we need to ask: what can we do to encourage students, and health care professionals into the area, appreciating that people are attracted into medicine and health because they want to save lives and fix people.

“We have to look at the way we train health care professionals. I know a young doctor who only had one optional session on end of life conversations in four years of training.

“And we need to change our culture in health care. We need to teach people that end of life care is a normal part of health care. 

“We have to support our health professions to have conversations around death and dying but we also have to change the attitudes of the community. So we have to come at the issue from both ends.”


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