Voluntary Assisted Dying – Findings and Recommendations Released

The Queensland Health, Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Committee has released their findings and recommendations on voluntary assisted dying. 

 

You can read the full report here and the submission QAI made to the Inquiry in April 2019 here.

This is a short excerpt from the report:

 

This paper provides a summary of the findings and recommendations from Report No. 34 on voluntary assisted dying. The report is one of three reports and a volume of additional information from the Inquiry into Aged Care, End-of-Life and Palliative and Voluntary  Assisted Dying. 


Recommendations

The following recommendations were agreed by the majority of the committee. For further information please
refer to comments by committee members in the full report

 

  1. Willmott and White draft legislation
    The committee recommends the Queensland Government use the well-considered draft legislation submitted to the inquiry by Professors Lindy Willmott and Ben White as the basis for a legislative scheme for voluntary assisted dying.
  2. Limit eligibility to over 18s
    The committee recommends that any voluntary assisted dying scheme in Queensland limits eligibility to adults aged 18 years or older.
  3. Limit eligibility to Australian citizens ordinarily residing in Queensland
    The committee recommends that any voluntary assisted dying scheme in Queensland limits eligibility to Australian citizens or permanent residents ordinarily resident in Queensland.
  4. Eligibility linked to diagnosis
    The committee recommends that any voluntary assisted dying scheme in Queensland requires that, to be eligible to access voluntary assisted dying, a person must be diagnosed by a medical practitioner as having an advanced and progressive terminal, chronic or neurodegenerative medical condition that cannot be alleviated in a manner acceptable to the person, and that the condition will cause death.
  5. No precise timeframes for a person’s anticipated death
    The committee recommends that any voluntary assisted dying scheme in Queensland should not propose precise timeframes for a person’s anticipated date of death within which voluntary assisted dying may be accessed due to the complex, subjective and unpredictable nature of the prognosis of terminal illness.
  6. Eligibility limited to people with decision making capacity
    The committee recommends that any voluntary assisted dying scheme in Queensland limits eligibility to people with decision-making capacity.
  7. Research into improving options for people who do not have decision-making capacity
    The committee recommends that any voluntary assisted dying scheme in Queensland requires further research, consultation and examination to be undertaken with respect to improving end of life options for people who do not have decision-making capacity, particularly in relation to ensuring Advance Health Directives are fit for purpose and effective.
  8. Assessments, qualifications, medications and protections from liability
    The committee recommends that any voluntary assisted dying scheme in Queensland includes: controls on the qualifications required for participating practitioners; the requirement that two independent medical practitioners assess any person wishing to access voluntary assisted dying; rigorous governance of systems for prescribing, dispensing and disposing of any  voluntary assisted dying medications; protections from liability for practitioners and patients participating in the scheme; and thorough documentation and reporting requirements.
  9. Education campaigns
    The committee recommends that any voluntary assisted dying scheme in Queensland includes comprehensive education campaigns to inform health practitioners and the general public  about the scheme, its eligibility requirements and the rights and responsibilities of health practitioners.
  10. Eligibility for people with mental illness
    The committee recommends that any voluntary assisted dying scheme in Queensland provides that a person who is otherwise eligible to access the scheme not be rendered ineligible only because the person has a mental health condition, provided that the person has decision-making capacity.
  11. Medications not be specified
    The committee recommends that any voluntary assisted dying scheme in Queensland does not limit or prescribe the medications that may be used for voluntary assisted dying.
  12. Self-administration of substance or administration by a practitioner
    The committee recommends that any voluntary assisted dying scheme in Queensland stipulates that the coordinating practitioner may determine whether self-administration of the substance or administration by the practitioner is the method best suited to the patient.
  13. Insurance implications of VAD
    The committee recommends that safeguards should be included in any voluntary assisted dying scheme in Queensland to ensure that participation in voluntary assisted dying does not nullify life insurance, funeral or health insurance held by a person accessing voluntary assisted dying.
  14. Counselling should not be mandatory
    The committee recommends that any voluntary assisted dying scheme in Queensland does not require that every person seeking access to voluntary assisted dying receives counselling as a condition of their eligibility.
  15. Assessment of applicants where doctors are not available
    The committee recommends that the Minister should consider including flexibility in any voluntary assisted dying scheme in Queensland for applicants in rural and remote areas of Queensland where a doctor or second doctor are not available, to permit a registered nurse who meets the training and other requirements to participate in the scheme to assess an applicant for voluntary assisted dying and to administer the voluntary assisted dying medication.
  16. Discussion to be instigated by the person wishing to access VAD
    The committee recommends that any voluntary assisted dying scheme in Queensland stipulates that discussion with a medical practitioner about accessing voluntary assisted dying can be instigated only by the person wishing to access voluntary assisted dying.
  17. Conscientious objection rights for medical practitioners
    The committee recommends that any voluntary assisted dying scheme in Queensland provides health practitioners who may have a conscientious objection to participating in voluntary assisted dying to opt not to participate, provided that the rights of the patients to access the scheme are also protected.
  18. Accessibility of VAD where available doctors conscientiously object
    The committee recommends that any voluntary assisted dying scheme in Queensland ensures that voluntary assisted dying is genuinely accessible to people with a life-limiting condition whose local doctor has a conscientious objection to voluntary assisted dying.
  19. Establishment of a review body to oversight the scheme
    The committee recommends that any voluntary assisted dying scheme in Queensland provides for the establishment of a review body similar to the Victorian Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board to provide oversight of the scheme.
  20. Mandatory training of practitioners
    The committee recommends that any voluntary assisted dying scheme in Queensland requires that health practitioners involved in administering or conducting assessments for voluntary assisted dying complete mandatory training developed by the Department of Health in conjunction with peak health professional bodies.
  21. Review of the scheme after 3 years
    The committee recommends that any voluntary assisted dying scheme in Queensland includes a requirement that the scheme be reviewed within three years from the date of proclamation to ensure the legislation is effective and working appropriately.