Northern Rivers cancer council community project co-ordinator Rowena Terone and Northern Rivers Cancer Council advocacy team leader Art Beavis are excited about the launch of the Northern Star campaign in support of the Cancer Council. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star
Northern Rivers cancer council community project co-ordinator Rowena Terone and Northern Rivers Cancer Council advocacy team leader Art Beavis are excited about the launch of the Northern Star campaign in support of the Cancer Council. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star Marc Stapelberg

Patient care needs repair, says Cancer Council NSW

AS CANCER diagnoses grow and more people die from the diseases, Cancer Council NSW has aired concerns the Northern Rivers lacks ample palliative care services.

Meanwhile, The Northern Star / Cancer Council's Saving Life 2015 campaign, which includes rallying for better palliative care locally, continues.

Four other achievable campaign measures the Cancer Council wants implemented following the State election in March are: an increased Aboriginal workforce in cancer services, tobacco retail reform, an abolishment of chemotherapy co-payments and co-ordinated cancer care.

Art Beavis, Northern Rivers Cancer Council NSW's advocacy team leader, has been pounding the pavement to discuss the issue with various stakeholders.

He said local palliative care services, including accommodation options, were increasingly important, under serviced and in need of a desperate shake-up across the Northern Rivers and the State.

"The severe shortage of qualified doctors and nurses to provide specialist palliative care services to dying residents of aged care facilities in NSW is a widespread problem," he said.

"The availability of such services has been shown to greatly reduce transfers to emergency departments.

"Likewise the scarcity of specialist palliative care doctors and nurses available to consult in acute hospitals is a matter of great concern.

"It can be shown that their services can significantly reduce both costs and, more importantly, suffering."

Mr Beavis said proper palliative care services providers allow adequate at-home care, but also "consult, advise, support, liaise and provide treatment in relation to dying members of the NSW community in other environments, particularly in aged care facilities and in acute hospitals".

He urged the State Government to bolster the palliative care workforce immediately.

Kris Beavis (not related to Art), The Nationals State candidate for Ballina, called for specialist palliative care teams to be established in all major hospitals.

His father died of pancreatic cancer recently, but was able to spend the last three weeks of his life in his Coffs Harbour home.

Mr Beavis wants this option to be available here.

Retired palliative care specialist Dr Yvonne McMaster prepared a business case for better palliative care in NSW, estimating savings of about $138m.