Australians battling terminal illnesses will soon be able to die “with dignity” as a state finalizes steps to implement voluntary assisted dying.
South Australia will see “fatal” voluntary assisted dying (VAD) laws come into effect in 27 days, with the first VAD applications accepted on January 31.
Dozens of doctors have already signed up to help people in need amid the Malinauskas government’s $18 million commitment over the next five years to support safe access to the service.
To date, 42 doctors have enrolled in the crucial training required to carry out eligibility assessments.
However, more doctors are being encouraged to heed the call, so that if a patient comes to them for help, they have completed the required mandatory training.
Online training for doctors includes a competency assessment that doctors will have to pass.
It also includes information on patient eligibility criteria and identifying risk factors for abuse or coercion.
SA Health Minister Chris Picton said the introduction of the VAD has required careful and methodical work through all legal, training, technology and health service requirements.
“It is welcome news that we have been able to recruit dedicated and committed staff to be care navigators, nurse liaisons and pharmacists, as well as dozens of doctors signing up to the necessary training so far, with more to follow,” said Picton . said
“Over the coming weeks, we will be doing more public communications so that doctors and the public are aware of how the system will work.”
An experienced team of Care Navigators (professionals with experience in end-of-life care) has been established, including an Interim Director of Nursing to oversee four staff members from nursing and allied health positions.
A VAD liaison nurse has also been appointed for each of South Australia’s three metropolitan local health networks, while one nurse has been recruited for the regional SA.
Access to the service will depend on an assessment of eligibility by both a trained coordinating physician and a second, independently trained consulting physician.
Attorney-General Kyam Maher said the VAD would allow terminally ill South Australians the option to “die with dignity”.
“This government has worked tirelessly to ensure the scheme is implemented as quickly as possible,” Maher said.
“VAD will finally be an option in South Australia after 16 previous attempts spanning 27 years to pass legislation.”
A patient who wants to follow the VAD route will have to make three separate requests, one of which is a written and in-person request.
A final review will then be required before a permit is applied for, to ensure that the application complies with the safeguards of the legislation.
When the application is successful, the patient will be able to access the medication for self-administration or for the medication to be administered by a doctor.
A dedicated team, including pharmacists, care navigators and the VAD Review Board will be there to support both patients and doctors throughout the VAD journey.
South Australians who want to know more can contact the SA Voluntary Assisted Dying Care Navigation Service here or call 0403 087 390 during business hours.
The voluntary way of assisted death
1. Make a first request for assisted voluntary death.
2. The doctor performs a first assessment.
3. A consulting doctor performs a second assessment.
4. Fill out a written declaration to access voluntary assisted death.
5. Make a definitive request for assisted voluntary death.
6. Choose a contact person.
7. The doctor performs a final check-up.
8. The doctor prescribes medicine after the permission is approved.
9. Arrange the supply of medicines with a pharmacist.
10. Decide to administer the medication.
11. Death certification.
Originally published as Voluntary assisted dying to start in South Australia