NSW Government to fund additional palliative physician based in Tamworth

STARTING POINT: Cancer Council's Robyn Carthcart with Lucy Haslam and Mitch Williams who have fought for increased palliative care. Photo: Peter Hardin 061217PHB010
STARTING POINT: Cancer Council's Robyn Carthcart with Lucy Haslam and Mitch Williams who have fought for increased palliative care. Photo: Peter Hardin 061217PHB010

A BOLSTERED palliative care system means there will be extra armour to protect families from being permanently wounded by the loss of a loved one, advocates say.

Fighting tooth and nail for close to two years, community advocates were lifted by Wednesday’s announcement of an additional full-time specialist palliative care physician to be based in Tamworth.

Lucy Haslam’s son, Dan, died in 2015 following a bowel cancer diagnosis.

RELATED ARTICLES:

Since then, the Tamworth mother has channeled her grief fighting to provide relief for others, campaigning for medicinal cannabis and to improve community-based palliative care in Tamworth.

“It actually can wound families for the rest of their lives if they have a negative [end-of-life] journey with their loved one,” Mrs Haslam said.

She said the additional physician put Tamworth and the region at the “starting line” and the job was now build on the current “basic level of service”.

Mitch Williams’ mother Dianne died in 2015 following a breast cancer diagnosis and helped bring the need for increased services to light.

Sharing the story of his mother’s painful final days has been hard but, ultimately, worth it.

“What a beautiful legacy that Mum and Lucy’s Dan get to leave for the region,” Mr Williams said.

Robyn Cathcart from the Tamworth Cancer Council branch said having a full-time physician in the region to provide advice and care would “save a whole lot of grief for both the patient and the family”.

“This will need to be built upon because of the region we service and the needs that are out there,” she said.

“Every person deserves to die with dignity and live with dignity, it’s not just the dying, it’s the living.”

“Particularly for Tamworth, because our track record is not good,” Ms Cathcart said.

“The impact on families, it can be a lovely journey, or such a sad journey that people are damaged forever by the sorrow that’s inflicted on them at the end stages of their life.”

The Tamworth position is one of nine new roles funded by the state government to the tune of $3.06 million.

The 2017-18 Budget also committed $795,000 for two rural palliative care relief positions to support specialists and GPs in hospital and in the community.

EARLIER: An additional specialist palliative care physician will be working out of Tamworth.

It comes after close to two years of campaigning from Tamworth advocates Mitch Williams and Lucy Haslam, who lost loved ones to cancer, who have fought to improve the level of end-of-life care in the New England North West.

The position is yet to be filled and recruitment is believed to commence in January 2018.

Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson said it a significant announcement and it would boost services in town and across the region.

SIGNIFICANT: Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson congratulated the community's push to improve palliative care. Photo: Gareth Gardner

SIGNIFICANT: Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson congratulated the community's push to improve palliative care. Photo: Gareth Gardner

Mr Anderson said the community advocacy played a role in securing the position for Tamworth.

“It’s very important to have community input in critical areas like this,” he said.

The position comes under the state government’s $100 million funding pledge to improve palliative care in the state.