Palliative Care Before Euthanasia

Regional Western Australians want palliative care fixed before the introduction of euthanasia, a poll of almost 2000 voters in the North West and Wheatbelt has revealed. The research, which was commissioned by a group of doctors, lawyers and health professionals called the End of Life Choices Working Group, has found only one person out of every four believe euthanasia should be legalised before palliative care is improved across the state.

Euthanasia becomes legal

Out of all pro-euthanasia voters, 73% believe palliative care ought to be improve before euthanasia becomes legal. The polling also reveal 64% of people did not support allowing euthanasia if a person’s loved ones had not notify a safeguard the WA Palliative Medicine Specialists Group said was missing in the legislation before WA’s Parliament. It found 56% of pro euthanasia voters did not support access to euthanasia if love ones have not been notified.

Overall, support for euthanasia increase with dissatisfaction with the health care system; with 70% of voters with a favourable view of the health care system supporting euthanasia; rising to 79% among people with a negative view. The research found 14% of support for euthanasia fell away if voters learnt doctors did not support it and concerns about wrongful deaths result in a 17% drop in support.

Voters across both the Agriculture and Mining and Pastoral Legislative Council regions were poll for the research. The massive electorates, which cover almost 2.5 million square kilometres; which have the least fund palliative care services in WA. The Kimberley is visit by a palliative care specialist just six times a year; while the Pilbara receives a single visit.

Approached of end life

In the Goldfields and Wheatbelt, a palliative care doctor makes 12 visits per year; while the Midwest receives 10 visits annually. Dr Anil Tandon, chairman of the WA Palliative Medicine Specialists Group and a visiting palliative physician in regional WA; said equitable access to quality palliative care meant no person need suffer as they approach the end of life. “Regional Western Australians should be incredibly concern by the current level of funding direct to palliative care, especially in the context of the debate around assist suicide,” he said.

“WA has the fewest number of palliative care specialists per capita; so the lowest number of publicly fund palliative care beds; also only one-in-three people who could benefit from specialist palliative care has access to the services they need. “Once people know this; also once they understand how quality palliative care helps people truly make of the most of their remaining time; so they begin to see a big shift in attitudes towards euthanasia.

“What we are saying is that no matter your postcode, every Western Australian should have access to the treatment they need when they develop a serious illness. No terminally ill person should ever find themselves in the position of being unable to experience quality palliative care but able to access assist dying.” The state government will spend $206 million over the next four years on palliative care, including $12 million in total for regional palliative care services.