09 April 2024

The Australian Government-funded National Palliative Care project, CareSearch, has launched the CareSearchgp app, a digital tool providing GPs with terminal prescribing guidance and evidence-based information to support quality care at the end of life.

It includes information about:

  • advance care planning
  • recognising deterioration
  • engaging in palliative care case conferences
  • caring for the dying patient, and
  • assisting families through stages of bereavement

The CareSearchgp app replaces and updates palliAGEDgp app which is being used by more than 5,000 GPs.

From 1 June, palliAGEDgp app will no longer be supported.

Find out more

05 February 2024

Select pharmacies across South Western Sydney have volunteered to stock core medicines to support health professionals and carers to provide palliative care for people who wish to die at home or in an aged care setting.

SWSPHN commissioned the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia to deliver the Core Palliative Care Medicines – Building collaborative partnerships with Community Pharmacists project.

The project aims to minimise access barriers and facilitate timely prescription, supply and use of medicines for end-of-life symptom management.

The core palliative care medicines list addresses the main symptoms commonly seen during end-of-life – pain, delirium, nausea, dyspnoea, and noisy breathing.

Where clinically appropriate, prescribers should consider prescribing medicines from the list for patients who wish to die at home or in an aged care setting.

Visit our website to find:

  • what medicines are being stocked
  • which pharmacies stock those medicines
15 January 2024

The Department of Health and Aged Care has provided guidance on Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) items for palliative care-related services.

  • New MBS Level E Consultation items were established on 1 November 2023 for longer consultations of 60 minutes or more where clinically required. This allows better management for care of patients with chronic conditions and complex care needs, including patients with multiple chronic conditions, and patients in need of advance care planning, palliative care and end-of-life care.
  • While there are no specific items on the MBS for voluntary assisted dying (VAD), existing general attendance items may be used to claim for services delivered by practitioners for end-of-life care and planning, which can include undertaking eligibility assessments and counselling for VAD. Benefits cannot be claimed for consultations related to VAD administration. The addition of the MBS Level E item may support GPs participating in VAD where consultations can take more time.

Find out more at MBS Online – Introduction of new Level E consultation

CareSearch advice on fees

The CareSearch palliative care knowledge network has also prepared guidance around MBS items which can be used for palliative care-related services or consults for primary care and residential aged care settings, allied health, nurse practitioners and community pharmacists.

Find out more at Remuneration for Palliative Care Services

08 December 2023

A Federal Court hearing has highlighted inconsistencies between State and Commonwealth laws, ruling voluntary assisted dying (VAD) comes under the definition of suicide and, therefore, the use of telehealth and other communication carriages, such as phones and emails, is unlawful.

Justice Wendy Abraham presided over Carr v Attorney-General in the Federal Court on 30 November, where Victorian medical practitioner Dr Nicholas Carr had applied for a declaration to resolve a legal question regarding the meaning of “suicide”:

“Does the word “suicide”, as used in … the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth), apply to the ending of a person’s life in accordance with, and by means authorised by the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2017 (Vic) and Voluntary Assisted Dying Regulations 2018 (Vic).”

Justice Abraham found in the affirmative, concluding: “… voluntary assisted dying, while a means carefully regulated, and a societally approved means of a person intentionally taking their own life, remains a means of a person taking their own life”.

Under the Commonwealth Criminal Code, it is an offence to use a ‘carriage service’ – such as a phone or video call – to counsel or incite suicide.

Dr Carr said in a RACGP’s newsGP article he believed the ruling would have a detrimental impact on GPs who supported VAD.
 
“It is not an easy process for people to take part in, it’s poorly remunerated and there are lots of other barriers,” Dr Carr said. “And now with the threat of legal action for use of the telephone or internet for any form of voluntary assisted dying care, it’s certainly not going to help people feel enthusiastic about taking part.”

He added the ruling did not consider the human differences between VAD and suicide.

“‘The real human experience of what voluntary assisted dying is, and how gentle and peaceful and comforting it is, and how different that is from the awful realities of suicide, that human experience never got mentioned.”

While Justice Abraham acknowledged the inconsistencies of the law, she said: “Section 109 of the Constitution resolves that conflict by giving the Commonwealth law paramountcy…”.

Western Australian Independent MP Kate Chaney has said publicly she intends to introduce a private member’s bill in 2024 seeking to exempt VAD from the Criminal Code.

Read more:

RACGP’s newsGP

Read other responses:

VADANZ urges reform of Cth Criminal Code

‘Retrograde’ Federal Court ruling on telehealth and voluntary assisted dying will lead to further suffering

Download VAD resources:

Voluntary assisted dying

12 September 2023

In preparation for the commencement of voluntary assisted dying in NSW on 28 November, registration is now open to become an authorised voluntary assisted dying practitioner.

Visit the NSW Health website to see if you are eligible, then complete your registration application via the NSW Voluntary Assisted Dying Portal.

Authorised coordinating, consulting and administering practitioners will receive comprehensive training and support to guide eligible patients seeking to access voluntary assisted dying through the process.

Find out more

Additional resources:

Next RACGP webinar is on 16 October 2023.

Register here
04 September 2023

Between July 2023 and June 2024, SWSPHN is partnering with the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) to develop and deliver palliative care education and resources for pharmacists and doctors in South Western Sydney.

PSA is seeking expressions of interest from consumers in South Western Sydney with an interest in palliative care, to join an advisory group to help inform this activity. Participation will be guided by the advisory group’s Terms of Reference.

PSA anticipates only two (virtual) two-hour meetings of the group, with the first meeting to be scheduled for Wednesday, 4 October from 1pm to 3pm. Remuneration will be offered to participating advisory group members.

The closing date for expressions of interest is Friday, 15 September at 5pm. By completing and submitting this brief form, you are giving your consent to be contacted by PSA in relation to this initiative.

For any queries, please contact Megan Tremlett – PSA Senior Pharmacist (Consulting) via email Megan.Tremlett@psa.org.au

Click here to express your interest

OR click the QR code below

20 July 2023

Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant, is hosting a NSW Health webinar on voluntary assisted dying.

The webinar will provide an update on how implementation is progressing and explain how patients and clinicians will be supported by the Voluntary Assisted Dying Care Navigator and Pharmacy Service.

There will also be an opportunity to ask questions to Dr Chant and the Voluntary Assisted Dying Implementation Team.

The webinar will be held on Tuesday, 1 August, from 5.30pm to 6.30pm.

Register to attend the webinar

Find out more about voluntary assisted dying by visiting the NSW Health website. You can also view a recording of a webinar held earlier this year.

23 May 2023

Celebrating National Palliative Care Week (21 to 27 May) this week, Kate Noble and Lucy Hobbs from the SWSPHN Integration and Priority Populations team hosted a well-attended event for community members on Monday, 22 May.

The event highlighted the importance of putting people at the heart of quality care and launched the new Dementia and Palliative Care Directory.

The directory was developed as part of SWSPHN’s Peace of Mind project, funded under the Commonwealth Greater Choice at Home Palliative Care measure. It includes local, state and national services which help guide families, carers and people living with dementia from diagnosis to end-of-life care.

Attendees heard from two community members who told of their own recent experiences as carers of a loved one being diagnosed with dementia (pictured).

Ingrid spoke of the diagnoses of her mother, and the support she received from her GP in accessing care, and the difficulties she faced finding local supports. Angus shared the story of his wife, her dementia diagnosis, and how he was supported by Dementia Australia.

Both speakers discussed how their knowledge of palliative care has grown over time and highlighted the importance of understanding the disease in all stages. This has allowed them to provide a better quality of life for their loved ones living with dementia.

It is available as a webpage on our website and as a downloadable, interactive pdf.

Dementia and Palliative Care Directory           

19 April 2023

SWSPHN will highlight the importance of National Palliative Care Week with the official launch of our Dementia and Palliative Care Directory at Rydges Campbelltown on Monday, 22 May.

Palliative Care Week, 21 to 27 May, aims to assist Australians learn about the many benefits of palliative care. This year’s theme puts Matters of Life and Death front and centre in our communities’ consciousness, highlighting that ‘people at the heart of quality palliative care’.

Our Dementia and Palliative Care Directory, a Peace of Mind project initiative, uses local, state and national services to guide families, carers and people living with dementia from diagnoses to end-of-life care.

It is available as a webpage on our website and as a downloadable, interactive pdf.

If you’d like to attend the launch, please register.

Register for launch
01 February 2023

The NSW Government is inviting applications from people interested in becoming a member of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Board.

Key functions of the board will include to:

  • monitor and report on the operation of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2022
  • decide whether to approve or refuse applications for access to voluntary assisted dying
  • keep a list of registered health practitioners who are willing to provide voluntary assisted dying services

Applications close on Thursday, 2 March.

Find out more