The following is an AI generated summary of NSW Health’s Outline of the operation of Voluntary Assisted Dying legislation for NSW which is to commence operation in late 2023. Full text of that can be accessed at https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/voluntary-assisted-dying/Pages/Voluntary-assisted-dying-overview.aspx . Further updates and information will be provided as issues crystalize.
Voluntary assisted dying?
Voluntary assisted dying refers to a process where an eligible individual can request medical assistance to end their own life. This option is available to individuals who are in the late stages of an advanced disease, illness, or medical condition and are experiencing unbearable pain and suffering. If the person meets the necessary criteria and follows the established procedures, they can choose to take or be given a prescribed substance to bring about their death at a time of their choosing.
Conditions & Governance Arrangements
In the state of New South Wales (NSW), Australia, specific conditions must be met to access voluntary assisted dying. The person must be an adult, an Australian citizen or permanent resident, or have resided in Australia for at least three continuous years. Additionally, they must have lived in NSW for at least 12 months. The person should have a progressive and advanced disease, illness, or medical condition that is likely to cause their death within six months (or within 12 months for neurodegenerative diseases) and is causing them suffering that cannot be relieved in a way they find tolerable. They must also have decision-making capacity and the ability to communicate their requests and decisions throughout the process.
During the implementation period, NSW Health is working on establishing governance arrangements and processes to ensure the safe and lawful implementation of voluntary assisted dying. An Implementation Committee and team have been formed to oversee and guide this process, collaborating with various health representatives and stakeholders. Plans are being developed for the establishment of a Voluntary Assisted Dying Board and secretariat, a state-wide framework for access to services, pharmaceutical protocols, a care navigator service, and education and training programs for supporting clinicians.
Access to voluntary assisted dying for individuals in rural and regional areas is a consideration for NSW Health. Efforts are being made to work with the health sector, including aged care and disability care services, to ensure that eligible patients in these areas can access the service. The establishment of a group of authorized practitioners and the involvement of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Care Navigator Service aim to facilitate this access.
The Voluntary Assisted Dying Care Navigator Service is to play a crucial role in providing support and information to all parties involved in voluntary assisted dying in NSW. This includes patients, their families and carers, community members, health practitioners, and service providers. The service offers assistance in navigating the process, answering queries, coordinating training and support for practitioners, and facilitating connections with authorized practitioners.
The Voluntary Assisted Dying Pharmacy Service is responsible for coordinating the safe procurement, supply, and disposal of the substances used in voluntary assisted dying across NSW. It ensures patient access to the substance regardless of their setting, such as their home, residential care facility, or public hospital.
The Voluntary Assisted Dying Board is an independent oversight and decision-making body established to monitor and report on the operation of the law. The Board evaluates applications for access to voluntary assisted dying, maintains a list of registered health practitioners willing to provide the service, and performs other functions specified in the legislation.
It is important to note that voluntary assisted dying will be integrated into each local health district’s end-of-life care pathways, and patients must be informed about all available options, including palliative care. Seeking information about or accessing voluntary assisted dying does not impact a person’s access to high-quality palliative care.
NSW Health is undertaking extensive consultation with local health districts, the broader health sector, and key stakeholders. Advisory groups, including the Clinical Advisory Group, Consumer Engagement Advisory Group, and Health Ethics Advisory Panel, provide advice, guidance, and ensure input from various perspectives. These groups contribute to the development of clinical guidelines, consumer engagement strategies, ethical considerations, and care pathways to ensure a safe, accessible, and well-understood voluntary assisted dying service in NSW.
If you have any queries, feel free to contact us.
The above was prepared for and is intended to provide a broad general overview of issues only. 19.6.23.
It is not intended, and must not be relied upon, as definitive legal advice.
If you have any queries, please feel free to contact your usual Eakin McCaffery Cox contact or
Gregory Ross (email@example.com) or your usual Eakin McCaffery Cox contact.
Telephone: 61 (02) 9265 3000