Voluntary Assisted Dying information sessions announced

Amanda Lyons

1/02/2019 3:52:31 PM

As the implementation of voluntary assisted dying approaches in Victoria, GPs will be able to learn more about the process and what it means for them.

Voluntary assisted dying will be legal in Victoria from mid-June this year.
Voluntary assisted dying will be legal in Victoria from mid-June this year.

On 19 June this year, voluntary assisted dying (VAD) will become legal in Victoria.
Victoria is the first state in Australia to pass assisted dying legislation, and, as the other states and territories watch on – some of which have also made recent, and thus far, defeated, attempts to implement their own VAD legislation – Victoria will provide a vital case study.
But while Victoria has been taking steps towards the implementation of the process since the passing of the legislation two years ago, including access to the necessary medication for ending life, questions remain at a practitioner level as many GPs continue to have queries and concerns about their role and obligations under the new system.
 GPs and other healthcare workers will soon receive assistance with these questions from the Victorian Healthcare Association (VHA), which has been working to develop the model of care that will support VAD implementation in Victoria, as well as safety and quality processes and resources to help organisations with their VAD planning.
The VHA is running a number of information sessions for people in the healthcare sector that will cover the model of care and pathways towards VAD.
Face-to-face sessions will be carried out throughout Victoria from mid-February to mid-March. Those who are unable to attend a face-to-face session will be able to access also other options, including online webinars and an online video that will be available for download.
Visit the VHA website to view dates and locations and make bookings for face-to-face sessions and webinars, and also to access Voluntary assisted dying model of care pathways and safety and quality guidance.

newsGP also contacted the VHA with some questions about the VAD process and GPs’ role within it. Those questions and the VHA’s answers are published below.
What role are GPs likely to have in terms of voluntary assisted dying?
To access voluntary assisted dying a person must be assessed by two registered medical practitioners who have specific qualifications and experience. The Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2017 defines these practitioners as the coordinating medical practitioner and the consulting medical practitioner. A GP may act as either a coordinating medical practitioner or a consulting medical practitioner.
The coordinating medical practitioner is the registered medical practitioner who is responsible for supporting the person through the voluntary assisted dying process. This practitioner receives a person’s request, undertakes a first assessment and is responsible for reporting to the Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board and applying to the Department for a permit for voluntary assisted dying medication. The consulting medical practitioner is responsible for undertaking an independent assessment of the person’s eligibility for voluntary assisted dying. This is called the consulting assessment.
Each practitioner must hold a fellowship with a specialist medical college or be a vocationally registered general practitioner. Either the coordinating or the consulting medical practitioner must have practised as a registered medical practitioner for at least five years after completing their fellowship or vocational registration, and have expertise in the person’s disease, illness or medical condition.
Should a GP either not meet these requirements or not wish to participate, they need to consider how they will communicate this to a person making a request within the required timeframe, and how they will refer them.
How have these information sessions been put together and what stakeholders were involved?
The model of care and quality framework have been developed by the VHA with the support of a consultative group. The consultative group included broad representation from across general practice, public and private hospitals, community-based palliative care and residential aged care.
The information sessions are aimed at health professionals from across these groups, to help them understand the models of care and quality framework before the laws come into force in Victoria on 19 June.  
Will attendees be able to ask questions?
Yes, attendees at the sessions will be able to ask questions. Questions will be taken using Slido [a Q&A polling platform] so that we can collate questions and add them to a frequently asked questions document so everyone will benefit from receiving answers to questions asked across the state.
If GPs do not wish to participate in VAD, what do they need to know?
While health practitioners are not required to participate [in VAD], a person may make a request to any general practitioner. It is important that all GPs, and all health professionals, understand their role to ensure they act in compliance with the legislation. They will need to consider how they will respond to questions and requests for information, how patients can be referred and how individuals within their practice will be supported.

VHA Victoria Victorian Healthcare Association Voluntary assisted dying

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Peter Coleman   5/02/2019 8:13:34 AM

Dear everyone, I urge all GPS to boycott these meetings and express horror at a law that supports murderiing a patient at the end of their life rather than good symptom management . Good palliative care is available in Victoria and in fact Australia. For the sake of patients and also the medical profession , please consider my plea , with so much concern , Peter Coleman