Continuing the thread from the previous post, the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory is warning that the NT Government’s policy of refusing dialysis treatment for patients from outside the Territory is causing enormous harm.
This is the statement:
AMSANT has written to the Northern Territory Health Minister with a potential solution to needless deaths among central Australian renal dialysis patients, AMSANT Chairperson Stephanie Bell said today.
“The current policy of refusing to treat Aboriginal patients in Alice Springs is contributing to early deaths for Aboriginal people,” Ms Bell said.
“Sending people from remote communities to Perth or Adelaide is creating enormous psycho-social impacts on individuals, their families and their communities.
“Some people are opting to refuse or withdraw from treatment so they can go back to their country to die: it is an intolerable situation.
“The patients concerned live on or close to their ancestral estates—and didn’t “ask” for those estates to be alienated from their kin and country by the arbitrary imposition of state and territory border lines.
“We have suggested to Minister Vatskalis that a short term solution is available—nocturnal dialysis—and that AMSANT would back the Territory Government in seeking proper recompense from the South and Western Australian governments, as well as Commonwealth support.
“The demand that they move many thousands of kilometres to distant capital cities is irrational and—in the long term—far more expensive than treatment closer to home in a regional centre such as Alice Springs.
“The tri-state committee dealing with these issues for 18 months and has done little more than sit on its hands.”
Ms Bell said that AMSANT realises that the Northern Territory is in an invidious position in being asked to take on patients that don’t “belong” to the Territory in a jurisdictional sense. She said the costs of introducing night dialysis at the Alice Springs Hospital, along with social and housing support, should be met by interstate governments.
“This is clearly a short to medium term solution, one that will be relieved to an extent with the new satellite facility opening in April next year,” said Ms Bell.
“Beyond that, of course, we must work towards peritoneal and haemodialysis being made available in the regions to reduce the load on facilities in Alice Springs.”
Croakey suspects that this is just one slice of a much bigger story about how Indigenous patients with kidney disease miss out on all sorts of potentially life-saving interventions – including measures that might help prevent the need for dialysis in the first place.