This statement draws attention to the Australia and New Zealand Society of Palliative Medicine position statement on the same issue. A link to this is at the bottom of this document.
We recognise that there is a diversity of opinion on this subject, and any vote, referendum or other means of decision making will leave a significant number of people unhappy. The approach to this by those providing care must, however, be the one that ensures clear boundaries for us and those who seek our help at an extremely vulnerable time.
We will be caring for a percentage of people who are mistrustful of healthcare for many reasons, and some of those are based on serious and damaging past experience. In particular those with physical, intellectual and mental health issues may have been made to feel that their lives are worth less than those of ‘normal’ people. They, and their families and carers, may have had to fight to get appropriate care with the very real fear of neglect or withdrawal of treatments based on negative quality of life assessments made by healthcare professionals. Introducing the concept of good palliative care in these circumstances requires re-establishing trust, specifically including that we will not provide euthanasia by stealth.
Even those with trust in us may hesitate to commit their end of life care to us if they know we also are prepared to euthanise upon request. For some, that may be interpreted as a cavalier attitude towards the boundary between life and death, and will leave them anxious that their care will be compromised by these attitudes either overtly or subconsciously.
In order to maintain trust, therefore, the board states that we will have no involvement in voluntary assisted dying (VAD). If VAD becomes legal in Tasmania we will not employ doctors who participate in this.
We do respect the individual’s right to choose, and if anyone under our care requests VAD they will be referred to a practitioner who can discuss it with them. We will not obstruct anyone seeking VAD unless we have serious concerns around competency, coercion or legal matters, in which case we will raise concerns via the appropriate mechanism.