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Doctors More Willing To Provide Assisted Dying Services

End-of-Life Choice Society President Dr Mary Panko is pleased to see that the percentage of New Zealand doctors willing to provide assisted dying services has increased from 24% in 2018 to 30% in 2021. “This was anticipated, as it happens in every jurisdiction where assisted dying is legalised”, she said. “As doctors begin to realise that some of their patients may request active assistance to die under circumstances of intractable, irreversible suffering, they begin to prepare themselves to assist.”

In March 2018, the NZ Doctor publication commissioned a survey by Horizon to determine the level of support among doctors for providing assisted dying services. The results showed that 24% would be willing to provide life-ending medication to an eligible patient for self-administration while 12% would be willing to directly administer the medication to the patient.

But a survey of 1,900 doctors by the Ministry of Health in March 2021 shows the number of possibly or definitely willing doctors has risen to 30%.

“The Society is working with Minister of Health Andrew Little during the establishment phase of the regulation,” said Dr Panko. “We want to ensure that fully protective safeguards are in place and also that access to the service is fairly and equitably distributed.”

“Given the tightness of the eligibility criteria, we anticipate that only about 5% of patients will qualify for assisted dying. It may be that fewer than that will request it. So we believe, along with Minister Little, that an adequate workforce will be found.”

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