Voluntary euthanasia to begin in South Australia

Australians battling terminal illnesses will soon be able to die “with dignity” if a state completes steps to implement voluntary euthanasia.

In South Australia, “groundbreaking” voluntary assisted suicide (VAD) legislation will come into force in 27 days, with the first applications for VAD being accepted on January 31.

Dozens of doctors have already pledged to help those in need, while Malinauskas’ government has pledged $18 million over the next five years to support safe access to the service.

So far, 42 doctors have signed up for the crucial training required to administer proficiency tests.

However, more and more doctors are being encouraged to heed the call so that patients who come to them for help have completed the required mandatory training.

The online training for physicians includes a competency assessment that physicians must pass.

It also provides information on patient eligibility criteria and identification of risk factors for abuse or coercion.

SA Health Secretary Chris Picton said the introduction of VAD required careful and methodical work through all the legal, educational, technological and public health requirements.

“It is encouraging news that we have been able to recruit dedicated and dedicated staff as care liaison officers, liaison nurses and pharmacists – and that dozens of doctors have signed up to date for the necessary training, with more to follow,” Mr Picton said.

“Over the next few weeks, we will be making further public communications so 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 set up, including an interim director of care who oversees four staff consisting of nursing and allied health positions.

A VAD liaison nurse was also appointed for each of the three local health networks in metropolitan South Australia, while a nurse was recruited for the regional SA.

Access to the service is subject to a proficiency test by a trained coordinating doctor and a second independently trained consulting doctor.

Attorney General Kyam Maher said VAD would give South Australians with terminal illnesses a choice “to die with dignity”.

“This government has worked tirelessly to ensure that the program is implemented as quickly as possible,” Mr Maher said.

“VAD will finally be an option in South Australia after 16 previous attempts to legislate in 27 years.”

A patient wishing to take the VAD pathway must submit three separate applications, one of which is a written and certified application.

A final check is then required before applying for a permit to ensure that the application meets the protections of the legislation.

Upon successful application, the patient is then granted access to medication for self-administration or for medication to be administered by a physician.

A dedicated team including pharmacists, care guides and the VAD Review Board will be there to support both patients and physicians on the VAD journey.

South Australians who would like to know more can contact the SA Voluntary Assisted Dying Care Navigator Service here or call 0403 087 390 during business hours.

The path of voluntary euthanasia

1. Make an initial request for voluntary euthanasia.

2. The doctor conducts an initial assessment.

3. A consulting physician conducts a second assessment.

4. Complete a written declaration of access to voluntary euthanasia.

5. Make a final request for voluntary euthanasia.

6. Select a contact person.

7. The doctor performs a final check.

8. The doctor will prescribe medication once permission is given.

9. Arrange drug supply with a pharmacist.

10. Decide on medication administration.

11. Death Certificate.

Originally released as Voluntary Assisted Dying to start in South Australia

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