QUEEN’S PARK – This week Health Quality Ontario released a report on palliative care. The report provides evidence of the lack of action on the part of the Ministry of Health & Long Term-Care to ensure quality palliative care is available to Ontarians who need it.
“After 13 years in power, the Liberal Government has failed to remove barriers that block access to palliative care. Palliative care should be offered early in treatment, however the report stated 48 per cent of patients only start palliative care in the last month of their life,” stated Ontario PC Health Critic Jeff Yurek (Elgin-Middlesex-London).
Dr. Darryl Cargill, a palliative care doctor in Windsor, agreed. “Beginning palliative care in the last month of life is simply too late. Especially when we know from evidence that early palliative care is associated with better symptom management and may even help patients live longer.”
Unfortunately the rationing of health care from this government is inhibiting patient’s access to care, including access to medication and homecare. The report also found that only 34.4 per cent of patients receive at home visits from a doctor in their last month of life, and 43.3 per cent weren’t even able to receive palliate care services.
“While we are encouraged by the government’s budget investment in community-based residential hospices and palliative care, there remains ways government can improve access to palliative care in our province,” Yurek continued. “We must work collaboratively with health care professionals to deliver care and ensure money reaches the frontline, instead of spent on health care bureaucracy. Currently the government’s poor relationship with doctors threatens patient care.”
“Government should work with Ontario’s doctors to improve palliative and end of life care in Ontario,” Dr. Cargill added. “The current atmosphere of antagonism between this current government and physicians is discouraging, counterproductive and, frankly, harmful to patients.”
Finding of the reports include:
About half (47.9%) began receiving palliative care in their last month of life
Nearly two-thirds (64.9%) died in hospital
About one-quarter (25.8%) spent half or more of their last month of life in hospital
Nearly two-thirds (62.7%) had unplanned emergency department visits in their last month of life
Less than half (43.3%) received palliative home care services in their last month of life
About one-third (34.4%) received a home visit by a doctor in their last month of life (this does not include visits from nurse practitioners)