TIME TO ACT: Meredith Dennis is launching a campaign to fund nurses at Wedgetail Retreat
TIME TO ACT: Meredith Dennis is launching a campaign to fund nurses at Wedgetail Retreat Nolan Verheij-full

Funds for nurses needed: Wedgetail calls on minister

THE Tweed's community hospice is renewing its push for urgent financial assistance, calling on the new health minister to visit the region so he can see first-hand how important the service is for people at the end of their life.

Meredith Dennis, Tweed Palliative Support and Wedgetail Retreat Community Hospice president, sent a letter to Health Minister Brad Hazzard this week calling for his support as it seeks the $500,000 it needs annually to pay for nurse care.

"We take a considerable burden off the hospital and health system but receive no government funding from the multi-million-dollar palliative care NSW Health budget," she said.

"Our home hospice, respite and live-in hospice services collectively assist approximately 500 palliative clients each year. This figure reaches 1200 people assisted when our complete services are tabulated."

Wedgetail previously sought funding from former Health Minister Jillian Skinner but was knocked back last August.

A health spokeswoman said at the time Parliamentary Secretary for Regional and Rural Health Sarah Mitchell MLC sent a letter to the service.

"Ms Mitchell advised that Northern NSW Local Health District had advised that regrettably, due to other funding priorities, it could not provide $500,000 to assist in the operation of Wedgetail Retreat," the spokeswoman said.

"It was noted that the NSW Ministry of Health provides funding to non-government organisation Silver Chain for its Last-Days-Of-Life Home Support Service, which operates in the Tweed-Byron area."

But Ms Dennis said even with Silver Chain operating in the region, there remained a void between the community's care needs and available support.

"We are kept incredibly busy, even with the introduction to the Tweed of NSW Health's Palliative Home Support Service provided by Silver Chain," she said.

"We work collaboratively to improve end-of-life care at home in the Tweed.

"As we have also informed the previous NSW health minister, a number of the Silver Chain clients require our Wedgetail Retreat community hospice services as their two visits per day at home are not enough to keep people with complex care needs or an aging carer at home.

"Their service also regularly utilises our free medical equipment on loan to their clients. They could not complete their care without our support."

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