Thursday 27 June 2013
Hansard of the Legislative Council
Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Mr President, I do
not want to appear morbid today but we in this House should be interested and
concerned about the provision of palliative care in Tasmania, if only for
personal reasons. All 15 of us, and this
might come as a shock to some of you, are going to die at some stage. Medical statistics show that Tasmanians beyond
the age of 60 are likely to suffer a morbidity about every five years. I am due
for my next one in about 12 months. Some
of us are likely to suffer cancer, heart, kidney or liver disease. Some of us are likely to face the prospect of
a terminal illness and are going to need palliative care.
This leads me
to the issue of the need for a hospice in northern Tasmania. We had one once - Philip Oakden House. It served the northern community brilliantly
with three public and three private beds but now it is no more because it
became financially unviable when OneCare
required all its facilities to provide a profit. I know that when it was first
set up, the costs of Philip Oakden House were covered to a great extent by the
Manor, because private beds and aged units were available and some of that
money enabled Philip Oakden House to be successful in its role as a hospice for
our northern community.
has four beds in Calvary hospital at St Luke's. There is also one bed in the
north-west and one in Scottsdale, which are not solely for palliative care. This compares with 10 beds in the Whittle Ward
in Hobart for a comparable population. The
Health minister's office says four funded beds are sufficient for northern
Tasmania. I can tell you that those four
beds have 98 per cent occupancy. There
is a need, at this time, for one or two more beds.
is not really about bed numbers as much as it is about the quality of
palliative care. Hospice nursing is not the same as acute care nursing. Hospice patients need a quiet, non‑formal routine
of nursing. I believe it is unfair to expect nurses in an acute care ward to
adapt to that requirement.
There is now
growing community pressure in Launceston - in northern Tasmania - for a new
dedicated hospice. A group called
Friends of Northern Hospice have demonstrated public support at a public
meeting, which filled the Pilgrim Uniting Church and they have a petition -
well over 2 000 signatures have already been received. The suggestion is for a dedicated 10-bed
hospice near the Launceston General Hospital and serviced by the LGH. Seven
beds would be publicly funded and three would be private. An ideal hospice would be on the ground floor,
for easy access so that patients' beds can be moved out into the sun and fresh
air. However, a hospice also needs peaceful surroundings, gardens and lawns. There must be 24-hour access for families and
friends of patients. That is what we had at Philip Oakden House, which served
our community so well.
I know all of
us here have sufficient imagination to see ourselves, possibly, in palliative
care and what we would want for our care at that time. Would we want to be on the fourth floor of an
acute care hospital where the whole nursing structure is to get you well and
out of there? That is the premise on which
you are in hospital. Or would you prefer
to be in a bed at a ground level, looking through a picture window at gardens
and flowers, with a nursing staff to make you comfortable and relaxed, with
space for your family around you, knowing that you had only perhaps days, weeks
or months to enjoy the rest of your life?
I wish the group well. I have been a supporter for a long time and they are
determined in their effort to provide a northern hospice for northern
Tasmanians. It is up to us to
acknowledge that there is a need in Tasmania for this hospice care and let us
hope that soon it will come to fruition for northern Tasmanians.