Just two Mid West health professionals have signed up for mandatory voluntary assisted dying training
Just one practitioner and one nurse in the Mid West region have registered for mandatory training to deliver voluntary assisted dying services when legislation comes into effect in two weeks.
The figures were presented to Parliament on Tuesday, revealing 69 medical practitioners had signed up for training across WA.
Representing Health Minister Roger Cook, Stephen Dawson said the State Government had “not set targets” as to how many practitioners were required to register for the voluntary assisted dying scheme.
“It is a decision of individual practitioners as to whether they choose to participate in voluntary assisted dying,” he said.
Mr Dawson said a Statewide Pharmacy Service had been established to ensure the “voluntary assisted dying substance” was available to regional patients.
“If a patient who lives in a regional or remote area requires this, pharmacists employed by Statewide Pharmacy Service will travel to them and supply the substance and provide written information about its administration,” he said.
But shadow minister for regional health Martin Aldridge said he was concerned Mid West residents would be forced to travel to Perth to access the scheme due to the limited availability of registered voluntary assisted dying practitioners.
It is no longer acceptable to say these people need to continue to travel — particularly at end of life — to access these services.
“It concerns me that the Government is now talking about providing travel subsidies to voluntary assisted dying patients to access these services whereas during the conduct of the debate, it was said where there wasn’t services available, there would be people prepared to drive in or fly in and provide those services to patients in their regional or remote communities,” he said.
“We need to draw a line in the sand and say we want to make sure these people can stay as close to their community as possible for as long as possible.
“It is no longer acceptable to say these people need to continue to travel — particularly at end of life — to access these services.”
While voluntary assisted dying would ideally be managed by a patient’s GP, Mr Aldridge said he understood why regional practitioners might be reluctant to participate in the scheme.
“For a small town doctor contemplating the 300-400 patients in their area ... patients seeking voluntary assisted dying services is not going to be happening on a weekly basis,” he said.
“With all the things that doctors — especially solo doctors in small country towns — have to do, this might be something that may prove too much.”
In cases where there were no local practitioners registered to participate in the scheme, Mr Aldridge hoped the State Government would honour its commitment to delivering voluntary assisted dying services to regional patients.
“Given the slow uptake of medical practitioners willing to register and undertake the training ... I hope the State is ready to respond when there is a request from a regional patient for access,” he said.
“I think the State has an obligation to all West Australians to make sure ... if you have received a terminal diagnosis, that you are adequately supported and have access to services such as palliative care and voluntary assisted dying as close to home as possible.”
The voluntary assisted dying legislation will come into effect on July 1.
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