Palliative medicine specialist Dr Derek Eng and Louise Angus made it very clear that VAD is not palliative care (Medical Forum, Nov 2021).
Of the 11,000 doctors in WA, only 29 have trained as VAD practitioners. This means that 99.8% of doctors will not be ending patient’s lives.
With an estimated 633 applications over a 12-month period, the Health Department is going to be very busy processing applications. When the VAD Bill was before Parliament, we were told that there would only be around 50 VAD cases annually.
Our new Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson presided over the End-of-Life Choices Select Committee where seven of the eight members supported euthanasia from the outset. In brief, I believe the inquiry was stacked and was always going to support VAD. There was never any criticism of this political chicanery from AMA (WA).
The Palliative Medicine Specialist Group strongly opposed VAD, however The West Australian refused to publish their opinion piece until after the VAD Bill had passed the Lower House. They received no support when they complained to the AMA.
Seven West Media meanwhile conducted an extremely powerful pro-VAD campaign and no one in the AMA leadership was prepared to voice policy opposing VAD. In short, there was a catastrophic failure of leadership.
The VAD laws will be reviewed in 2024, and most likely extended allowing advance euthanasia requests for early dementia patients. Canada has legalised assisted dying for the mentally ill, so expect that to be on the agenda as well.
If any doctor is unhappy with what has happened, blame the AMA.
Dr John Hayes, Palliative Care WA member