Rutherford man James Murphy knows only too well how the palliative care system works.
While nursing his cancer-riddled wife Fiona at home during her final days, he relied heavily on those he called his palliative care “angels”.
Mr Murphy was extremely grateful for the help he could get from the staff and volunteers of Maitland and Dungog Palliative Care.
However, he was unable to administer Fiona pain relief unless he bundled her up and took her to Maitland Hospital. He could not get a palliative care nurse to help his wife outside hours because there was not enough funding to employ more staff.
Palliative care across NSW has had to rely on a loyal base of volunteers and limited government funding.
Fiona (pictured) died in August.
In September Mr Murphy and his three children launched a palliative care awareness campaign with the view to helping enhance existing services. It paid off.
The State Government announced on Monday that Palliative Care NSW will receive $100 million to be distributed across the State over the next four years.
The package was praised by Palliative Care NSW president Therese Smeal, who said regional and remote parts of the state would receive their share. The news was music to Mr Murphy’s ears but begged the question “will any of those dollars be spent in the Hunter?”
Will some of the funds be channeled into obtaining more palliative care beds so people like Mrs Murphy can die at home?
Mr Murphy said each bed costs $5000 and in Maitland what beds they have were purchased through volunteer funding.
While bittersweet, Monday’s announcement has prompted Mr Murphy to continue his fight for the NSW Palliative Care.
Much more needs to be done, he said. The volunteers can’t do it alone and there are families in our community crying for help.
He wants to see a hospice set up in Maitland, similar to that of the Mater Hospital in Newcastle.
A place where families can gather to say their goodbyes, support each other and see their loved ones depart this world in dignity.
While the NSW Government has made the pledge, let’s hope it does not stop there.
We don’t want just lip service.
Mr Murphy, along with Maitland and Dungog Palliative Care, need a long-term commitment.