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Calvary ‘steps away’ from palliative care hospice Clare Holland House

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Calvary National CEO Martin Bowles. Photo: Calvary Health Care

Calvary Health has made the decision to “step away” from running the ACT’s only inpatient palliative care service, Clare Holland House, when Canberra Health Service takes over Calvary Public Hospital on 3 July.

In a statement published 26 June National Chief Executive Martin Bowles said Calvary and the ACT Government have, “jointly agreed it was in the best interests of patients and employees to ensure an integrated model is preserved.”

“Calvary and the ACT Government have mutually agreed the future of Clare Holland House and access to public palliative care services in the territory is best supported by remaining directly connected with the public hospital to ensure continuity of care for patients needing public palliative care services,” Mr Bowles said.

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Calvary has committed to working with Canberra Health Services to “ensure a safe and smooth transition” of the service after an ACT Supreme Court application to injunct the 3 July takeover, and have the Health Infrastructure Enabling Act declared invalid, both failed.

“It is with a heavy heart that we have come to this decision, but in our view Clare Holland House is not a separate service and patient care is our priority,” Mr Bowles said.

Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith had previously said during the debate in the ACT Legislative Assembly over the takeover laws that the palliative care hospice is owned by the ACT government and did not come under the same agreement as Calvary Public Hospital.

She said that staff at the hospice wanted to be part of an integrated health service and wished “to take palliative care into the future.”

The ACT Government is currently preparing legislation for a euthanasia scheme in the territory, after laws prohibiting the territories from legalising euthanasia were repealed by the Federal Parliament late last year.

In April, Canberra-Goulburn Archbishop Christopher Prowse praised Clare Holland House as an example of a high-quality alternative to euthanasia.

“As an example of good palliative care in the ACT, we can see the exceptional service offered by Clare Holland House,” he said.

“They give national leadership in providing top treatment with pain relief to the terminally ill. Furthermore, it also deepens a social need pastorally to assist patients and their families and friends in approaching inevitable death with grace.

“There is no hint in these proposals that euthanasia is an option due to social isolation, loneliness or the fear of being a burden.”

Calvary is reportedly considering an appeal, after the ACT Supreme Court published its full reasons on Friday 23 June.

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