Silver Chain breaks continuity of care
Silver Chain ‘partnership’ is really a takeover, nurses say.
Western Sydney Local Health District chief executive Danny O’Connor claims the Silver Chain arrangement is a “partnership” with WSLHD aimed at “increasing options for patients and families in western Sydney”.
However, palliative care nurses employed by Western Sydney LHD’s Integrated Care service say the arrangement is about shifting patients and profits to the private sector.
“They say it’s a partnership but we all know it’s not,” one nurse told The Lamp. “Silver Chain don’t want to share care; they want total ownership of patients.”
Silver Chain Group calls itself the biggest provider of non-government community-based palliative care services in Australia.
It says it has more than 3,000 staff, 400 volunteers and 62,000 patients in all mainland states.
A big player in WA
According to the magazine Medical Forum, the company controls around 35 per cent of health and community services public funding in WA, giving it a “unique and leading position within WA’s primary care infrastructure.”
“They try to operate in western Sydney on the basis of their West Australian model but in WA they are the community health service,” said a nurse familiar with Silver Chain.
“In western Sydney we have an existing community service delivered by the public health system.
“Years ago, we covered people 24/7, but over time it has been eroded and we have had our funding taken off us.
“We still care for patients in the community but now we are forced to hand them over to Silver Chain when they are estimated to have about three months left.
“There is no continuity of care. We build up a rapport with the patient and family and then we have to hand them over to Silver Chain to die.
“Silver Chain expect us to chase all the information for them but once we hand patients over, they are not even allowed to access our phone service.
“Our nurses are not even told when the people they have been caring for have died.
“It is not about giving patients greater choice; it actually denies them the right to choose.”
Nurses also question why Silver Chain has permission to access hospital records through the Cerner IT system, when other NGOs cannot.