Planning and evaluating palliative care services in NSW has found that NSW Health's approach to planning and evaluating palliative care is not effectively coordinated. There is no overall policy framework for palliative and end-of-life care, nor is there comprehensive monitoring and reporting on services and outcomes.
NSW Health has a limited understanding of the quantity and quality of palliative care services across the state, which reduces its ability to plan for future demand and the workforce needed to deliver it. At the district level, planning is sometimes ad hoc and accountability for performance is unclear.
The capacity of LHDs to use accurate and complete data to plan and deliver services is hindered by multiple disjointed information systems and manual data collections. Further, a data collection on patient outcomes, for benchmarking and quality improvement, is not used universally. This limits the ability of districts to plan, benchmark and improve services based on outcomes data.
NSW Health's engagement with stakeholders is not systematic. The lack of an overall stakeholder engagement strategy puts at risk the sustainability and value of stakeholder input in planning and limits transparency.
Over the last 2 years, NSW Health has taken steps to improve its planning and support for districts. The Agency for Clinical Innovation has produced an online resource which will assist LHDs in constructing their own, localised models of care. eHealth, which coordinates information communication technology for the state's healthcare, aims to invest in integrating and improving information systems. These initiatives should help to address many of the issues now inhibiting integrated service delivery, reporting on activity and outcomes, and planning for the future.