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  • Doctors train for assisted dying regime

    Author: AAP

More than 40 doctors have registered to be involved in South Australia's voluntary assisted dying regime ahead of its introduction at the end of January.

The state government says training is under way and more doctors are being encouraged to sign up to ensure they are ready to help patients who approach them once the new laws are in force.

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"With the implementation of voluntary assisted dying, South Australians with terminal illnesses will now have the choice of dying with dignity," Attorney-General Kyam Maher said.

"This will be an historic and significant milestone that will benefit many South Australians and their families."

South Australia's laws were passed in 2021 after 16 previous attempts to get legislation through state parliament over more than 25 years.

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The assisted dying system includes 70 safeguards and a provision that people wishing to die must be resident in the state for at least 12 months.

A terminal diagnosis and a life expectancy of less than six months, or 12 months for a person with a neurodegenerative disease, must be confirmed for a patient to access the procedure.

The bill also requires patients to show they have decision-making capacity and are capable of informed consent, and to undergo an assessment by two independent medical practitioners.

They must have their request verified by independent witnesses and must be experiencing intolerable suffering that cannot be relieved.

Online training for doctors includes a competency assessment component and information about the eligibility of people seeking assistance as well as the assessment of any abuse or coercion.

A team of care navigators has been established with an interim nursing director to oversee four nursing and allied health staff, all with experience in end-of-life care.

A patient will be required to make three separate requests, including one in writing.

If all the requirements have been met, a final review is conducted before someone can apply for a permit to ensure the application complies with the safeguards set out in the legislation.

Once a permit is granted, the patient will be able to obtain medication for self-administration or in certain cases administration by a doctor.

Health Minister Chris Picton said the introduction of the system required careful and methodical work through all the legal, training, technology and health service requirements.

"The introduction of voluntary assisted dying in South Australia is a massive reform which will later this month see people given more choice and options at the end of their life," he said.

The system comes into force on January 31, at which point South Australians will be able to make their first request to access the procedure.

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