My email to our new NSW Minister for Health, sent 13.2.2017

Brad Hazzard
Minister for Health

Dear Mr Hazzard

Congratulations on your appointment as Health Minister for NSW.  It is encouraging that in the Daily Telegraph 6.2.2017 you are reported as recognising that more needs to be done for health matters in regional NSW.

You also stated that: “……often people depart this life in hospital…….”.  This is certainly true, as NSW Prof Ken Hillman has noted: “Up to 70% of people now die in acute hospitals, surrounded by well meaning strangers, inflicting all that medicine has to offer; often resulting in a painful, distressing and degrading end to their life.”

Research indicates that in fact 70 to 80% of terminal patients would prefer to die at home.  To enable this, adequately trained people are needed, plus the funding directed towards this service.  I imagine it could well be ‘cost effective’ compared with dying in an Intensive Care Unit or similar?  Ref: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-10-25/hundreds-access-program-of-end-of-life-care-at-home/6883162

Another issue relating to the terminally ill also attracts a similar level of 70 to 80% public support in NSW.  That of assisted dying choice for the terminally or hopelessly ill who are facing futile suffering.

A cross party group of NSW MPs is currently working on a draft Bill to enable this choice, and I respectfully urge you to please have positive input into this much needed legislation, with the aim of ensuring that the final draft is such that you as Minister for Health could publicly support and vote to pass it.  It does need to have a balance enabling access for the patients who wish to use it, and safeguards to protect from possible abuse.

There is now extensive data from other jurisdictions that proves this balance is possible.
– A wide ranging, in depth, Victorian Parliament Inquiry into End of Life Choices made 49 recommendations including improvements to palliative care AND that the Victorian Parliament enact legislation to enable medically assisted dying choice
– A significant number of Australian nursing groups (who are at the ‘coalface’ of dying), support having this legal choice.
– The whole of Canada has assisted dying choice, albeit under limited conditions, following a Supreme Court decision and a number of inquiries that all found in favour of this choice. Notably, this new law has the endorsement of the Canadian Medical Association.
– Legislation in Oregon USA has been operating successfully for nearly 20 years, as indicated by the Annual Reports and other studies.

Other points supporting legislation include –
– There are many instances of horrific futile suffering endured by a dying patient where even the best palliative care cannot adequately control the symptoms.
– Palliative Care own data (PCOC) shows 1 in 6 patients in the terminal phase of their terminal illness report moderate to severe distress from pain.
– Access to assisted dying choice is palliative in its own right. Patients given access frequently live longer and have a better end quality of life than those who do not request assistance.
– Overwhelming public support, including perhaps to your surprise, a majority of Christians.
Having this choice puts the patient first.
– It provides a compassionate and logical alternative to the present ‘grey area’ of terminal sedation.

I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to discuss this issue face to face with you and provide additional information in support of assisted dying choice.
Yours sincerely

Ian Wood
National Coordinator
Christians Supporting Choice for Voluntary Euthanasia
Villa 1, Hampton Mews
4 Wills Place
Mittagong  NSW  2575
Website www.Christiansforve.org.au

Copy of this email also sent by post to Premier Berejiklian.