Thursday, October 29, 2009

Palliative Care Society meeting of friends and supporters

Last night I attended the information evening of the Palliative Care Society on the proposed sale of Clare Holland House (CHH) to the Little Company of Mary (LCM). It was held at the Ainslie Football Club.

I counted well over one hundred people, and one organiser gave the figure of 143.

There was overwhelming opposition to the sale of Clare Holland House.

The purpose of the forum was to provide information and a range of perspectives on the proposed sale to encourage friends and supporters of Clare Holland House to share their thoughts with the Council of the Palliative Care Society. The feedback received will provide guidance to the Society on how to respond to the proposal.

The Palliative Care Society is a member of HCCA and a number of HCCA members were part of the audience. We will certainly be considering the feedback we heard last night in responding to the Government’s proposal.

There was a change in the format of the information evening. The Minister for Health, Katy Gallagher and the LCM were invited but the Council decided that, in the interest of open and frank discussion, to withdraw the invitation so that they could provide a forum where friends and supporters could freely discuss matters of concern on the proposed sale.

Shirley Sutton, Patron of the Society, spoke thanked people for attending and provided a history of the home based palliative care and shared with members of her distress at the sale of Clare Holland House.

Peter O’Keeffe, a volunteer with the Society for 10 years, spoke, in a strong and considered way about his concerns about the impact such a decision could have on our community. Peter is a member of the working group PCA set up to research implications of the proposal. He expressed his concern that Clare Holland House seems to have been thrown into the deal as a bargaining chip. Of particular concern is the 30 year exclusive service contract of clinical service to the LCM as part of the proposal. This was a major issue of concerns with those assembled. Peter ended with an impassioned plea to those in the audience to tell others about the issues.

Linda Denham, honorary secretary of the Society spoke on the clinical issues and concerns the staff. There are concerns about loss conditions of employment, and implications for care given the need to have an integrated palliative care as they work across a wide range of areas including radiation oncology, medical oncology, renal, neurology, pediatrics and cardiology. Integration will be more difficult with privatisation of the hospice. Linda also spoke of her concern around the monopoly of services that would result from the sale and the granting of the 30 year service contract.

David Lawrance, President of the Palliative Care Society, opened with comments that the alarm bells have started to ring and that many in our community are worried. He stated that the Society does not have a formal view on hospital sale but strongly oppose the sale of the hospice. He said that they Society considers it to be quite wrong to use CHH as a bargaining chip in negotiations in respect of purchase of the hospital and that they can see no reason for connecting the purchase of CHH and Calvary. David stressed that the current situation works very well and there is no reason to change it.

There was unanimous opposition to the sale and the audience will be supporting the Society in their fight to save Clare Holland House.

HCCA supports the sale of the hospital to the Government but not at the expense of Clare Holland House. We share many of the concerns of the Palliative Care Society. We question the nexus between the sale of the hospital and the hospice and think they are two very different issues to be considered separately.

We have had a number of meetings with consumers and have prepared a paper outlining the issues. We are running a workshop next Thursday to work through these.

1 comment:

acahill said...

Hi Darlene and others,

I'm not sure why you are opposing the sale of CHH when the outcome will be no different from the current arrangements.

The only difference in the running of CHH will be the name on the land title. CHH will continue to be a publicly funded and public palliative care facility, conducted by the Sisters of the Little Company of Mary. The absolute only difference is that the LCM's will own the buildings and the land. They are required to continue to run a public palliative care facility which they are committed to doing. They will not be allowed to sell the land or buildings for some other purpose.

They are really good at palliative care: this is their specialty and the source of great support in the community as they have cared for many Canberrans (religious and non religious alike).

I'm at a loss to figure out why anyone would oppose this.

The issues that have been raised by Cardinal Pelle and Archbishop Colleridge are divisive, and frankly insulting to those who work in non sectarian health care facilities.

The people who don't want a "private palliative care facility" are being cute: it will not be a private facility. It will continue to be a public facility owned (different) and operated (same) by the LCMs funded (same) by the ACT government.

Let's have another look at this.