Voluntary Assisted Dying info added to HealthPathways

Nov 20, 2023

The Mid and North Coast HealthPathways team has launched a Voluntary Assisted Dying pathway in preparation for the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act, which comes into effect later this year.

Passed on 19 May 2022, the Act takes effect from 28 November 2023 following an 18-month implementation period. It will enable eligible people to access voluntary assisted dying (VAD).

“We anticipate that GPs in Mid and North Coast will be the first point of contact for many patients seeking information about VAD”’ said HealthPathways Clinical Editor Dr Susan Roberts.

“We want to provide GPs and other health practitioners with up-to-date information so they can advise their patients”.

The new pathway was published on 10 March and has already received more than 100 views. It will be progressively updated as more information and local care pathways become available.

Dr Roberts said that by making the page ‘live’ now, GPs would be able to help patients seeking information about VAD and gain a greater understanding of their own roles in supporting VAD. This includes accessing mandatory training if they want to be involved to assist a patient through the process as coordinating, consulting or administering practitioner.

Based on the take-up of VAD in other states, she anticipates there will be demand in NSW.

Recent data reveals there were 591 first assessments undertaken in Queensland in the first 6 months since the legislation was enacted on 1 January 2023.

“In Western Australia, where the law has already come into effect, there has been higher than anticipated early demand, with 190 people, or 1.1 per cent of those dying in the State, choosing voluntary assisted dying in the first year,” Dr Roberts said.

“In Victoria, 400 people registered for voluntary assisted dying in the first year. Considering the population of NSW, that number is likely to be higher here.

“Reports in Victoria have shown that 75 per cent of people being assisted to die were over 65 years of age and, in the first year of the law being passed, 36 per cent of applicants were from regional areas.”

Healthy North Coast has established a VAD working group that will inform primary practitioners about the new law in the lead-up to its implementation.

NSW Health is also offering online information on voluntary assisted dying, including an overview of the legislation, information for the community and information for health practitioners.



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