More terminally ill Victorians meet euthanasia criteria to end their lives

Excerpt from article By Matt Johnston, Herald Sun – 28 August 2019

A growing number of terminally ill Victorians have met the criteria for the state’s euthanasia scheme, and have been approved to access life-ending medication.

Eleven terminally ill Victorians have been granted permits to access lethal medication if they choose, under the state’s first voluntary euthanasia scheme. The Herald Sun can reveal that the patients were assessed by at least two doctors and met strict criteria which includes having less than six months left to live. This means they can now be prescribed lethal medication, which must be kept in a locked box before being self-administered.

 

Bendigo woman Kerry Roberston, 61, became the first person to use the laws in Victorian history last month, following a decade-long battle with cancer.

She died in a nursing home, surrounded by family.It is unclear whether any of the other 10 Victorians who sought approval have accessed or taken the life-ending drugs.

In the days leading up to the laws taking effect on June 19, about 100 Victorians had expressed interest in using the scheme

The first report by the Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board — led by former Supreme Court Justice Betty King QC — on the scheme’s early days was tabled in state parliament today.   Reports are compiled every six months, and this one only covers the first 11 days of the scheme up to June 30.   Ms King said the number of people accessing euthanasia was low, but that a lot of work had gone into preparing health specialists who can approve patient requests.

More than 300 doctors, cancer specialists, and palliative care clinicians have undertaken training around the state so far.   Former Supreme Court Justice Betty King said more detailed information would be provided in future reports — but it was important to protect the privacy of those using the laws.   “Releasing deidentified data in the future reports will help the community have informed discussions about what is a very sensitive topic,” she said.

“It will also help us in making recommendations to improve how the law operates.”Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said voluntary assisted dying “is giving Victorians suffering with an incurable disease a genuine and compassionate choice at the end of the lives”.

“This model is the most conservative in the world, with 68 safeguards, reflecting the will of the Victorian people,” she said.  “The privacy and safety of Victorians who are suffering at the end of their lives — and that of their doctors and loves ones — remains paramount.”

matthew.johnston@news.com.au


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