Doctors demand options for dying Queenslanders before VAD debate

22 May 2021

Doctors in surgery

AMA Queensland’s 2021 Budget submission calls for palliative care services to be adequately funded before state parliament votes on Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD). 

Speaking at the start of Palliative Care Week, AMA Queensland President Professor Chris Perry OAM said an additional $275 million per year was urgently needed to meet growing demand.

“We expect the VAD legislation to be presented to state parliament this week and debated in September, so there’s no time to waste,” Professor Perry said.

“The State Government must properly fund palliative care so patients have a true choice when it comes to end of life care.

“It’s proposed that VAD be accessible to those with a terminal illness, intolerable suffering and a life expectancy of 12 months.

"However, specialist palliative care services are only available to those with a prognosis of three months which shows there is a major gap in real options for patients.

“Dying Queenslanders deserve more options and more respect.”

Doctor survey on VAD

An AMA Queensland survey of 1,250 doctors showed 98 per cent believed doctors should be able to offer palliative care options before or at the same time as VAD.

However, Professor Perry said that wasn’t possible because of chronic shortages.

“Last year’s palliative care funding barely scratched the surface. There is an acute shortage of palliative care specialists in the state, many services have tightened their eligibility criteria and reduced their range of services,” he said.

“As well as proper funding, we need new models of care such as palliative care outreach centres for regional, rural and remote communities.”

Read more on VAD here.

Budget submission 

AMA Queensland’s Budget submission endorses a range of initiatives and priorities for patients and doctors.

They include more than $1.65 billion needed for:
•    fair access to EDs and hospital beds, mental health support, palliative care, maternity services and addiction management, particularly for Queenslanders who live in regional and remote areas
•    solutions to plan for a sustainable health system
•    doctors’ wellbeing and mental health support.

Read the AMA Queensland 2021-22 Budget Submission here.

Published: 22 May 2021