National Palliative Care Coordination Program

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National Palliative Care Coordination Program

The National Palliative Care Coordination Program (NPCC) will help deliver a sustainable health system that is responsive to the increasing burden of chronic conditions, and the delivery of Australia’s National Palliative Care Strategy by increasing access to palliative care (particularly for underserved populations) and improving collaboration and coordination of palliative care.

The NPCC aims to:

  1. distinguish primary and specialist palliative care;
  2. establish national referral criteria to and discharge criteria from specialist palliative care;
  3. identify a carer needs assessment tool suitable for use in palliative care; and
  4. promote and disseminate a National Palliative Care Coordination Framework.

We will achieve this by interrogating national datasets and high-quality evidence, surveys, and evaluations, and consulting and collaborating with stakeholders.

This new program is important because:

  • National agreement regarding what distinguishes the need for generalist versus specialist palliative care in Australia doesn’t exist. This gap negatively affects patients and carers. It increases their risk of having unmet needs, reduces access to care, and increases their likelihood of hospitalisation, emergency department (ED) use, and poorer outcomes.
  • This is particularly problematic for underserved populations. People from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and those outside of metropolitan areas have increased odds of attending ED. Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples have ≥1 hospital admission within the last year of their life.
  • The gap also challenges our health system with average annual health service costs being higher for people in their last year of life compared to all other people across the life span: hospital admissions 30 times higher ($15,100pp versus $500pp); and ED costs 14 times higher (AIHW, 2022).
  • Also, people with complex needs aren’t accessing specialist palliative care as 88% have low symptom burden, and most access specialist palliative care after a hospital encounter (70%) or due to a cancer diagnosis (≈64%) (PCOC n=316,789 patients; 2019-2022).