Fiona Jacobs, who is campaigning for voluntary assisted dying, says there is more work to be done. Picture: John McCutcheon
Fiona Jacobs, who is campaigning for voluntary assisted dying, says there is more work to be done. Picture: John McCutcheon

Mackay end-of-life care inferior to Townsville: report

MACKAY residents have inferior access to end-of-life care compared to other regional Queensland cities, a new report has found.

A Queensland Parliament committee has tabled its report from an inquiry into aged care, end-of-life and palliative care and voluntary assisted dying and makes 77 recommendations for the Australian and Queensland governments.

THE committee heard Mackay has a population of 125,000 and no specialist palliative care physician, compared to Townsville's population of 250,000 and three specialist palliative care physicians.

There is no dedicated palliative care unit at Mackay Base Hospital.

The committee recommended the State Government consider a needs-based funding model for specialist palliative care as well as a palliative care workforce strategy, which would address increasing the number of palliative care specialists.

Voluntary assisted dying campaigner Fiona Jacobs said her mother, a former Mackay teacher, received "woeful" palliative care during her last 12 days of "suffering", before her death in 2017.

Ms Jacobs' mother was sent to a Mackay nursing home to receive high care palliation.

The Sunrise Beach resident said she had to fight her mother's doctor, nursing staff and her siblings during this time to maintain adequate relief for her.

 

END OF LIFE: The committee heard Mackay has a population of 125,000 and no specialist palliative care physician.
END OF LIFE: The committee heard Mackay has a population of 125,000 and no specialist palliative care physician.

"She had no idea who I was or where she was, she was non-verbal, clearly distressed and obviously suffering in pain," Ms Jacobs said.

"Being a registered nurse myself, I was used to caring for dying people, but mum's distress shocked me deeply."

Ms Jacobs said recommendation 77 - which called for an education campaign targeted at health professionals to ensure understanding of the appropriate use of opioids for palliative care - was pertinent to her mother's experience.

During her mother's ordeal, Ms Jacobs claimed at one point, she was told the nursing home had "run out of morphine" and was waiting a pharmacy delivery.

Ms Jacobs said there was still more work to be done to ensure Queensland passed voluntary assisted dying legislation.

"Palliative care is very poorly done in Queensland and any improvement has got to be a good thing," she said.

"It's certainly not a win.

"What I am looking for is more to do with the voluntary assisted dying - but we'll just have to wait and see."


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