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AUSTRALIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION (WA)
The Australian Medical Association (WA) today said it was pleased that the report by the Joint Select Committee on End of Life Choices points very clearly to the deficiencies in palliative care in WA.
“It is very clear now that the government must look at the quality of palliative care, funding for palliative care and access to palliative care,” AMA (WA) President Dr Omar Khorshid said.
“In the AMA’s view, if we fix palliative care we will be improving the quality of the end-of-life experience for the vast majority of Western Australians rather than focusing on the very small number of people talking about assisted suicide.
“The report was clear. Much more needs to be done on palliative care. Even this Parliamentary Committee couldn’t discover full details of palliative care in WA, including how much money is spent each year,” Dr Khorshid said.
“In our view, the community’s support for assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia is due to failures of palliative care and it is incumbent on the medical profession and the State Government to do everything they can to fix palliative care before we consider crossing this very important line into actually ending a patient’s life.”
The support in this report on legislation to establish assisted dying is not surprising but it is unexpected that the Committee wants the government to introduce the Bill.
Now the focus will be on the State Government, especially the Health Minister Roger Cook, to decide on that recommendation.
“But the government has a clear choice – does it fix palliative care or do they follow the Victorian model, where a Parliamentary report which made similar recommendations on palliative care that were ignored but for the last recommendation, which resulted in the introduction of legislation for doctors to end the lives of their patients,” Dr Khorshid said.
“I call on the Minister to let the AMA know what they plan to do as soon as possible.
“The minority report of Hon. Nick Goiran MLC gives us a range of examples of how the legislation introduced in every jurisdiction has not been as clear as hoped and has resulted in confusion, even death.
“We need to look very carefully at any such legislation and make sure that we are protected as a community.
“The government should pause on assisted dying, concentrate on palliative care and watch carefully what happens with the roll-out of legislation in Victoria.
“As the report itself indicates, the AMA (WA) has played a key part in this Parliamentary process and we will continue to provide advice to Parliament as we move down this very long road,” Dr Khorshid said.