The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines palliative care as an
approach that seeks to improve the quality of life of terminally ill patients
and their families through the relief of pain and other distressing symptoms – physical,
psychosocial and spiritual.
person has the right to receive good palliative care at the end of life. As
palliative care doctors recently wrote
: “Good palliative care helps patients
and families avoid both overtreatment and neglect of treatment. It enhances
patient autonomy and decision-making capacity by improving symptom control and
empowering patients to participate in their care. It is illogical and immoral
to even consider euthanasia legislation before ensuring there is universal
access to palliative care.”
Furthermore they write, "From our experience of caring for people who are ill and vulnerable, legalising EPAS [euthanasia and physician assisted suicide] is unnecessary and unsafe."
is still some way to go in the adequate provision of palliative care. All Victorians should have timely, coordinated
and responsive access to palliative care; however, in Victoria this is sadly not the case. The
fact that some people struggle to access adequate care is an injustice we
should address. There is nothing dignified about being killed or assisted to
suicide. Killing such people is not the solution. Increased funding for palliative care so that all Victorians at the end of life, can be cared for, is the real solution.
A/Prof Natasha Michael, Director of Palliative Medicine at Cabrini Health outlines what palliative care involves and asks what type of legacy we wish to leave future generations...