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Health authorities across the country are getting funds to train thousands of paramedics to deliver palliative care.

The Canadian Partnership Against Cancer and the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement say they are jointly providing up to $5.5 million over the next four years for the plan in six provinces. They expect that will support training for more than 5,000 paramedics.

The two agencies say palliative paramedic services can reduce unnecessary hospital visits and give those with cancer and other life-limiting conditions access to urgent end-of-life care “when they need it, and where they want it.”

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The program is based on existing models in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Alberta.

The funds will go to health teams including: BC Emergency Health Services, Saskatchewan Health Authority Regina Area, Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority in Manitoba, York Region Paramedic Services in Ontario, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, New Brunswick Department of Health and Eastern Health in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The program will run until spring 2022.

Having paramedics able to deliver palliative care eases the strain on health-care resources including hospital beds and emergency departments and cuts the total time paramedics spend on a call, the CEO of the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer said Tuesday in a release.

“A big part of achieving a more sustainable cancer system is finding ways to have vital supports provided to patients in their home and community,” said Cindy Morton, whose Health Canada-funded organization is a network of cancer agencies, health system leaders and experts that look for improvements and efficiencies in cancer care.

The Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement is a not-for-profit organization funded by Health Canada that works with partners to identify ways to improve patient care.

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