Palliative care fund boost
MEREDITH Downes is just one of the many Tweed residents looking forward to improved palliative care services in the area thanks to a $6.7 million federally-funded project announced yesterday. The Tweed Palliative Support volunteer said the plan, announced by Member for Richmond and Minister for Ageing Justine Elliot at the Tweed Hospital yesterday, would help co-ordinate GP services for those with life-limiting illnesses. "It's good news for GPs looking after palliative patients," Mrs Downes said. "Anything that provides money to help GPs to improve the overall care for patients is good for the community." The palliative care project, piloted by the Australian General Practice Network (AGPN), will see the Tweed and 35 other rural divisions of practice share the $6.7 million in funding. AGPN chief executive officer Kate Carnell said the project aimed to help GPs work with health and other community services to deliver optimum palliative care. Dr Graeme Burger, who runs the Tweed Hospital's palliative care unit, said the funding was necessary to help patients receive the best possible care from GPs, nurses and allied health professionals. "Anything that can help the co-ordination of palliative care services in the region, particularly for people on both sides of the valley, it can only be good news for patients and their carers," Dr Burger said. Ms Elliot said there was an increasing need for such a project in the Tweed region. "The Tweed local government area has both a high growth rate and a very high proportion of over-65s -- 23 per cent of the population, which is nearly twice the state average (of 13 per cent)," Mrs Elliot said. "This means the Tweed region faces greater than average challenges in palliative care.
"This funding will be used to build stronger and better-resourced palliative care services locally, while linking into all the other areas of rural health." But Mrs Downes said she believes funding for a specialised palliative care hospice was "desperately needed" in Tweed. "There has been a working party trying to organise such a facility for the last few years," Mrs Downes said. "We're confident we will get the funding one day, we have strong support from the community that we can turn to if we don't get support from the state and federal governments."