This week’s announcement that the State Government will channel $100 million into Palliative Care was bittersweet for Rutherford man James Murphy.
Mr Murphy, who nursed his wife Fiona during her last days battling an aggressive cancer, said his family’s almost year-long fight for more funding will continue despite Monday’s news.
Mrs Murphy died in August last year.
In September Mr Murphy and his children launched a campaign for more palliative care funding so around-the-clock care could be given to those who choose to die at home.
Fiona’s story went statewide as the Murphys garnered more support and collected thousands of names on a petition instigated locally by daughters Amanda and Rachael.
The Murphys’ campaign gained the support of much-respected retired palliative care specialist and full-time palliative care campaigner Dr Yvonne McMaster OAM.
Member for Maitland Jenny Aitchison shared Fiona’s story in parliament. Clearly the politicians listened.
On Monday the NSW Government announced Palliative Care NSW will receive the $100 million over the next four years to fund additional positions for six palliative physicians in rural NSW, with two palliative physician relievers, 30 additional palliative care nurses, as well as the training of 300 health staff in palliative care and 300 scholarships for rural and regional health staff looking to enhance their skills.
The Cancer Council said the budget commitment would see an increase in the number of palliative care nurses and funding for 24-hour community care services. Cancer Council Hunter manager, Shayne Connell, said it was a great first step in addressing the issues.
Dr McMaster said the funding would not have happened without passionate advocates like the Murphy family and Cancer Council workers and volunteers.
“It should be noted that the palliative care specialists are not guaranteed under this service which, alongside nurse practitioner and a team of registered nurses, currently allows for unpaid carers and GPs who elect into the program,” she said.
“Part of the $100 million is unallocated and is slated for use according to the findings of government roundtables. We will be pushing hard here to see more specialist physicians, nurses and allied health workers added to the ranks,” Dr McMaster said.
Mr Murphy hopes some funds will filter through to Maitland. “So much of our service is reliant on volunteers and fundraising. I’d also like to see funding channeled into a hospice for Maitland where terminal patients can die with dignity and not in a room at the back of a hospital ward.”