Ten year Strategy on Palliative Care : Disappointment and Concern


Ten year strategy on palliative care: Disappointment and concern

1.1 billion euros over 10 years for palliative care, such was the amount announced by the minister for Labour, Health and Solidarity in an interview for Le Monde.

Catherine Vautrin indicated that “The Social Security funds currently committed to palliative care total 1.6 billion euros per year.” A linear increase from 1.6 to 2.7 billion euros over 10 years represents a yearly increase of a mere 6%. Considering that inflation reduces the positive impact of this increase, it is difficult to see how the real needs of the population could be covered by 2034. According to the minister herself, 50% of French people still do not have access to such care.

How can one claim that 235 extra beds in 2025 will make any significant difference whereas hundreds of thousands of French patients who have the need have no access to palliative care? On the other hand, if the end-of-life bill is adopted, they will have access from 2025 to “assistance in dying”. There is a major risk that euthanasia and assisted suicide will be pushed onto patients due to the lack of access to the necessary care. This reality is difficult to reconcile with the aim presented by the government that the first thing which will be proposed to patients, “will be palliative care”.

As for the accompaniment care which is intended as a broadening extension of palliative care, it in fact corresponds to the definition given by the WHO for … palliative care. There is every reason for concern at this permanent will to change words.

There is also good reason to wonder about the final purpose of these accompaniment establishments for which the minister herself states that although their prime purpose will not to be to conduct “assistance in dying”, “we shall see according to the results of experimentation“.

Faced with the needs of French patients, the government has shunned away from making the ambitious choices which would provide equal access for all to palliative care. Quite the opposite, they have chosen to speed up the establishment of administered death. With the health system in crisis and in a strained economic and budgetary context, this choice is liable to have serious consequences for the most vulnerable members of society.

Alliance VITA is calling for rejection of this project which undermines national solidarity and for everything possible to be done in order to ensure that the French health system can provide proper care for all patients who need it.

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