In the Media

Kelly Vincent – Vision Australia Interview on Cuts to Palliative Care Services

On 22nd July 2015, Dignity for Disability MLC Kelly Vincent was interviewed on Vision Australia radio station to discuss the recent cuts to palliative care services in the South East of South Australia. Here is the audio and transcript of that interview.

Richard Morgan: Time to welcome to 5RPH Dignity for Disability MLC, Kelly Vincent. Hi Kelly.

Kelly Vincent: Hi Richard.

Richard Morgan: Kelly, I understand the cuts to palliative care services are underway in SA Health. Why are palliative care services so important?

Kelly Vincent: Well for most tending to patients who are dying is not something that they deal with every day and it requires a specialist body of knowledge and expertise. The cuts that are now in place that have just been instated by this government means that there will be less services, particularly to support people who wish to carry out palliative care at home. So it will increase reliance on an already over-stretched hospital beds and deny people what I think is a right to die peacefully at home surrounded by their loved ones and still receive the specialist care and support they need to make sure their last days are as peaceful and pain free as possible.

Richard Morgan: Now I believe that palliative care services have already been cut from the South Eastern region and Fleurieu Peninsula Regions of South Australia. Can you tell us what sorts of cuts have already been made?

Kelly Vincent: Well the cuts made include cuts to clinical repositions; bereavement counselling, so counselling for the families who have just lost a loved one through palliative care; nursing staff have been halved from full time equivalent of 2.4 to 1.2, so half of the nursing staff are available for palliative care service; a part-time nursing position in Bordertown has been removed entirely; the manager for geriatric evaluation and management, leaving the service without a manager and leaving people without evaluation for services; and other cuts to the management services as well. So these are very serious cuts that have been made, that really on the ground it means there will be less services available to support people to have their choice of living out their final days at home, in a familiar environment with their loved ones. We’re yet to hear any reason from the Minister for Health, Jack Snelling as to why these cuts have been made.

Richard Morgan: Now what’s Dignity for Disability doing about this? And what can our listeners do if they want to lobby the state Health Minister?

Kelly Vincent: Well on behalf of Dignity for Disability, I’ve certainly asked several questions of the Minister for Health, Jack Snelling in the parliament about the nature of these cuts and why they were made. Because I think that’s the most worrying thing is that no one as far as I am aware and certainly no one that has contacted me about this issue, Richard has been given any reason as to why these cuts have been made. So I’ve been asking questions in parliament and I’m yet to receive a response from the Minister, but I’ll certainly keep lobbying until we get a response because we need to make sure that these services are available not only for people who need to have the option to die comfortably at home but for people that need the bereavement counselling after they lose a loved one as well. So these services are absolutely vital. I also started an online petition on change.org and people can sign that petition on my Facebook page or the website if you search for it on Google. I certainly encourage as many people to sign as possible. It already has over 500 signatures and I set up the petition so that a copy of it will be emailed to the Minister every time it’s signed so he’s aware of the level of support for these services. So hopefully if people join us by signing the petition on change.org or my Facebook page by searching Kelly Vincent on Facebook, we can get some awareness about how important these services are and make sure that support is available for terminally ill people and their families.

Richard Morgan: It’s an important service and let’s hope common sense prevails.

Kelly Vincent: Absolutely, particularly in an already under-resourced region like the South East where they already lack services due to the geography of the region. We can’t afford to lose this one, so thanks for the interest Richard.

Richard Morgan: Alright Kelly, thanks for talking with us tonight.

Kelly Vincent: That’s a pleasure, thank you.

Richard Morgan: Dignity for Disability MLC, Kelly Vincent.