PUBLIC patients are at no disadvantage to their private counterparts when it comes to pallative care treatment in Wagga, according to the national director of clinical services at Calvary Health Care.
Sue Hanson has weighed in to the ongoing debate about the provision of end-of-life care services in Wagga following sustained calls for the construction of a 10-bed public hospice in the city.
Presently, the city's pallative care needs are serviced by six beds in Calvary Hospital's St Anne's East Ward.
Those beds cater for both public and private patients under an agreement between the hospital and Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD).
Six hundred bed days per year are funded for public patients and on any particular day all six beds could be filled by the public system, Ms Hanson said.
"If there was somebody in need, we wouldn't turn them away," she said.
Ms Hanson also serves as co-chair of the NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation's Palliative Care Network and as an ex-officio member of the Wagga Palliative Care Alliance.
She admits palliative care is an "emotive" issue within the community and that there has been significant community anxiety about access to care in Wagga.
One of the biggest concerns raised in recent weeks is whether private patients would be given priority access to palliative care, but Ms Hanson has insisted that is not the case.
Referrals are based solely on patient needs and health insurance status is not taken into consideration, Ms Hanson said.
"Public patients can get access to those beds based on need," she said.
"We have nothing in place that gives priority to privately insured patients to any of those beds."
Once Wagga's new 10-bed palliative care unit is built, the number of bed days available to the public system will be reviewed, but Ms Hanson said it would be negotiated once every 12 months with MLHD to ensure demand can be adequately met.
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