Potential funding for end of life care across the Western NSW Local Health District has been slashed over the next two-and-a-half years.
Documents which have not been released to the public - but have been seen by the Central Western Daily - revealed that the maximum amount of funding for the 2024-25 financial year was cut from $3 million to $1.7 million.
That maximum amount was meant to grow by $630,000 for the 2025-26 financial year. Instead, only $300,000 has been allocated.
The potential funding was then meant to see an additional$1.47 million (2026-27) and $2.78 million (2027-28), but now an exact figure has been put on hold.
The figures come from a document titled 'world class end of life care commitment- enhancing end of life care allocations'.
A spokesperson for WNSWLHD said existing end-of-life and palliative care service levels including in-home care services across the district were ongoing and not impacted by enhancement funding allocations made to the NSW Government's 'World Class End of Life Care Program' in the 2023-24 NSW Budget.
"The expansion of Orange Health Service's designated palliative care beds is proceeding," they said.
"Construction will begin in 2024, following further design and consultation processes with staff, patients and the community. Ongoing operational funding for the additional palliative care beds will be received following completion of capital works."
The Central Western Daily understands that the funding cuts are likely to impact staffing, not the delivery of projects.
The push for more palliative care services in Orange has been going on for years.
On August 4, the NSW Government revealed it had committed $93 million to redevelop and refurbish palliative care units throughout the state. This would include new and expanded units at Westmead, Nepean, Wyong, Tamworth and Orange hospitals.
"How people approach the end of their life is a deeply personal and individual experience," the WNSWLHD spokesperson added.
"High-quality end-of-life and palliative care is available in our district for people of all ages and background who require it, either at home, in the community or in an inpatient environment.
"We continue to work closely with community service providers to offer a more flexible palliative care model that improves patient choice and comfort and, importantly, also responds to the needs and wishes of our local communities."
The office for the NSW Minister of Health, Ryan Park, was approached for comment about the cuts.
A NSW Government spokesperson said they would "still deliver a funding boost to palliative care that addresses the existing service gaps and improves accessibility and equity of services."
There have been recent refurbishments of palliative care spaces at Wellington, Parkes, Canowindra, Trundle and Brewarrina Health Services.
"Significant planning and development for future service enhancements is ongoing and our district will continue to advocate for any additional funding that may be required, to ensure we continue to meet the needs of our communities," the WNSWLHD spokesperson added.
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