Nineteen leading Queensland doctors have signed a joint letter to 93 Members of State Parliament warning of “unacceptable risks” in the proposed voluntary assisted dying (VAD) laws before State Parliament.
With Parliament resuming this week (Tuesday, 31 August), the doctors are urging all MPs, who have been granted a conscience vote on the legislation, to heed the concerns of medical professions about the laws.
The doctors are former Presidents of Australian Medical Association Queensland, with a combined 700 of years of practise and the treatment of more than 3.5 million Queenslanders.
Dr Zelle Hodge, who has signed the letter, said the doctors have offered to discuss their concerns with the MPs before the vote of the legislation.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, politicians have urged Queenslanders to consult their doctors. On behalf of Queenslanders, doctors are urging Queensland politicians to do the same,” Dr Hodge said.
“Whether individuals are opposed to or supportive of VAD laws, there are unacceptable risks in the current proposed legislation.”
“If the Government is intent on passing this law it must listen to health professionals about their concerns and protect some of the most vulnerable Queenslanders.
The letter to MPs focusses on four key concerns with the proposed legislation:
- The insufficient skills required of the co-ordinating and consulting doctors is inconsistent with good medical practice and the principles of informed consent;
- Making eligibility conditional on an estimate of twelve months until likely death from a disease provides significant risk of inaccurate assessment;
- The impositions regarding institutional conscientious objection are not consistent with accepted principles of provision of care and of choice and thereby pose a risk to those seeking VAD, as well as other patients, residents and staff of institutions with a conscientious objection; and
- The underlying assumption that every Queenslander approaching end of life can access palliative care cannot be achieved
“Keeping Queenslanders safe, particularly the most vulnerable, has been a major concern for all politicians over the last 18 months. If the current legislation passed the Parliament without changes, the Parliament would be dropping the ball on protecting vulnerable Queenslanders,” Dr Hodge said.