Media Release 10 July 2022
The government is aware that fully funding palliative care is expensive. Is the government wishing, by underfunding palliative care, to encourage vulnerable patients who cannot access palliative care to choose a lethal injection or assistance in suicide?
The Minister of Health, Andrew Little is generously providing $100 million in this year’s budget for mental health over the next four years, but no additional funding for palliative care.
There are 32 hospices in New Zealand providing world class palliative care. In 2021 it is estimated that it cost $178 million to provide this care. The government provides $88 million and hospices are left to raise the balance from their op shops, raffles, cake stalls and charity events.
Right to Life asks the Minister why the government fully funds as a core health service its “assisted dying” service that allows a doctor to kill their patient with a lethal injection or assist in their suicide, while hospices are only partially funded. Doctors who are prepared to provide this “assisted dying service” are generously rewarded by the State with up to $3,000, for every patient removed from the health service, plus travelling allowances to access patients living in remote areas.
The government is committed to promoting “assisted dying” and has established a special unit of seven full time staff in the Ministry of Health to oversee and promote access to this new service. Its name is the Quality Assurance & Safety Health Systems Improvement & Innovation team. The Ministry has no dedicated unit to promote hospices or palliative care.
The government should give a firm commitment to promote a culture of life by increasing funding to hospices to allow care to be given to those who reside in remote areas. Hospices provide quality compassionate palliative care for our most vulnerable members when they are suffering a terminal illness or from dementia and other serious illnesses. This is care that recognises the dignity and the inalienable right to life of every human being. It is also affirming the role of the medical profession as carers and not killers.
We should promote a culture of life by fiercely protecting our palliative care and hospice movement We must reject a culture of death by strongly opposing “assisted dying”.
Hospices make a huge difference to people’s lives by ensuring terminally ill people are as free from pain and suffering as possible. They also provide care and support for families and friends. In 2020 10,374 people with a terminal illness received care and support in dying from hospice services throughout New Zealand and hospice staff made over 145,000 visits to people in their homes.
Right to Life believes that we should be very grateful to the doctors and nurses who staff our world class Hospices for the care and compassion they administer to our most vulnerable citizens. We can live without euthanasia.
Right to Life NZ Inc.