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AUSTRALIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION (WA)
The Australian Medical Association (WA) has acknowledged the passing of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2019 (WA) today but said the hard work required to make the legislation as safe, workable and fair as possible has not yet been completed.
“There is still much to do in the fit-out of this process – to complete the package of information, education and guidelines that will affect how doctors and patients interact with this law on a daily basis,” AMA (WA) President Dr Andrew Miller said.
“It is a tough job providing care at the end of life, but the State’s hard-working General Practitioners, medical specialists and nurses are up to the task, and will now be considering how this law will operate. More resources for patients and services will be critical to relieve suffering, as many MPs have emphasised during this debate.
“Specialist GPs in particular will be in the middle of the fray as they continue providing great care for dying patients. The bureaucracy must be made easy for all to navigate, while the process must be as safe as possible.
“The AMA (WA) has played a pivotal role in analysing and discussing this piece of legislation, which mentions the duties and responsibilities of doctors on nearly every page. More than 1500 doctors recently responded to our call for advice on the Bill. Again and again, they made the point that any Voluntary Assisted Dying law needs to be as safe, workable and fair as possible, including for regional patients and practitioners.
“I am pleased that the Deputy Premier and Minister for Health, Roger Cook, has agreed to appoint an AMA (WA) representative to the implementation group that will now be charged with the next steps. Soon we will survey doctors for their ideas on implementation issues – getting the details right will be very important.”
Dr Miller also welcomed the establishment of a Parliamentary Committee to oversee Palliative Care in WA. “Palliative care is a human right, and must be made available in an affordable and timely manner for everyone who wants it, irrespective of their location and whether or not they ultimately may want to access the Voluntary Assisted Dying process,” he said.
Dr Miller said the Association respected the decision of the Parliament and will engage to support doctors and patients, whatever their involvement is in Voluntary Assisted Dying procedures.
“We know that some members of the profession and public do not support euthanasia in any form, and of course their wishes should be respected as well,” he said.
“I am grateful that without exception the MPs we met with, from every Party, listened to the AMA (WA) in good will, and ultimately took the views of the medical profession into account in their considered deliberations.”
Dr Miller commended Legislative Council Members for fulfilling their role, considering the Bill carefully and making more than 50 amendments, and the Legislative Assembly Members also, for their willingness to engage.