As the voluntary euthanasia bill hit the West Australian Parliament last week, a palliative care nurse was ramping up her fight against it. Source: Community News Group.
Lou Angus has worked in palliative care for 30 years and believes if people with “life-limiting illness” had adequate access to it then voluntary assisted dying would not be needed. Ms Angus, who works at St John of God Subiaco Hospital, is part of anti-euthanasia lobbying group Palliative Care WA.
“I’ve been dealing with patients and families who have been living in that dying space for my whole career,” she said. “One or two people in my 30-year history have asked to die. Most people, in our experience, are clinging onto life.”
Ms Angus said many doctors did not know to refer patients to palliative care specialists or did so too late.
Their services included management of pain, breathing and gastrointestinal issues, providing patients with information about their health and helping them make informed decisions about treatment and their future.
The McGowan Government recently announced an extra $41 million for palliative care services, bringing it to $206.2 million over the next four years, but Ms Angus said greater funding, awareness and specialist nurses were still needed.
“We are the most under-resourced state when it comes to palliative care specialists,” she said.
Dying With Dignity WA campaign manager Dinny Laurence said the organisation, which is advocating for the bill, “wholeheartedly supports the best possible palliative care in WA”.
“We don’t really see it as a contest between voluntary assisted dying and palliative care,” she said.
Ms Laurence said palliative care “simply isn’t enough” for about 5 per cent of people at the end of their life.
“It’s for those people that we believe there should safe and compassionate access to voluntary assisted dying,” she said.
Nurse says better palliative care negates need for assisted dying (Community News Group)