SW GPs urge passing of ‘humane’ VAD Bill

Zoe KeenanSouth Western Times
GPs from across the State, including Dr Ian Catto from Dunsborough, back row, present a letter in favour of voluntary assisted dying to Parliament House.
Camera IconGPs from across the State, including Dr Ian Catto from Dunsborough, back row, present a letter in favour of voluntary assisted dying to Parliament House.

South West general practitioners and doctors have urged the State’s Upper House to give terminally ill patients more choice and regulate problematic practices like terminal sedation.

More than 20 South West GPs, doctors and specialists joined 168 from across WA in signing a letter in favour of Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill laws.

It comes after Upper House MP Nick Goiran, who has opposed the Bill since its inception, put forward 223 of the 332 proposed changes to the Bill.

Mr Gioran has been accused by Labor of trying to delay the Bill from passing this year.

The letter, which was presented to Parliament House, urges Upper House MPs to give them the ability to respond to terminally ill patients, experiencing unrelieved pain, with compassion.

“Many of our patients fear prolonged suffering during the dying process far more than they fear death itself,” the letter wrote.

“We know that for a significant proportion of terminally ill people, palliative care is not enough ... recent evidence from WA shows that at least 5 per cent of dying patients report unrelieved suffering despite receiving expert palliative care.”

The letter pointed to practices in terminal sedation, a medical intervention with the aim of making a patient so exhausted they die within days or weeks of dehydration.

The practice is not legal or documented and has no safeguards or consent protocols in place, according to the letter.

The letter also raised concerns in the health industry about possible prosecution for hastening death which, “causes some doctors to provide less than optimal pain relief and sedation.”

The letter quoted coronial statistics that 10 per cent of suicides in WA were terminally ill people.

“We ask you to vote for a safe, humane and compassionate law that will also fulfil the wishes of the overwhelming majority of your constituents,” the letter closed.

The Legislative Council will resume debate in Parliament today at 1pm.

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