A residential hospice bed is roughly one-third the cost of a hospital bed. Photo from Pixabay

Hospice funds still fall short, Ontario doctors warn

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  • December 18, 2018

Ontario’s palliative care doctors are warning that the government is not ready for “an imminent spike in the number of people facing end-of-life.”

In a Dec. 10 release, the Ontario Medical Association section of palliative medicine said it’s nice Queen’s Park is putting money into new hospice beds, but it’s not enough.

“We were pleased to see the Ontario Government’s announcement confirming that it will fund some new residential hospices,” said the release, but the increasing number of elderly is putting pressure on end-of-life care.

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care announced it was “moving forward with plans to build 193 new hospice beds across Ontario.” It is investing $33.6 million for the beds, plus an additional $20.3 million in operational funding once they are open.

The financing had been put in place more than a year ago by the previous Liberal government.

However, new hospice beds on their own won’t close the gap on palliative care, said Toronto palliative care doctor and chair of the OMA Section of Palliative Medicine Dr. Bill Splinter. 

“There’s still, unfortunately, a lot of needless suffering that’s going on that shouldn’t be going on,” he said. 

Palliative medicine in Ontario needs both more trained and dedicated personnel and more palliative beds, whether in hospices or hospitals, Splinter said. While 87 per cent of Canadians could benefit from palliative care at end-of-life, only 15 per cent are receiving it, according to a recent report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

With almost two-thirds of Canadians dying in a hospital bed, more palliative care represents an opportunity to reduce costs, said Splinter. A residential hospice bed is roughly one-third the cost of a hospital bed.

“We don’t actually need to add dollars to the system. We need to redirect the dollars,” said Splinter.

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