Hospice NZ April 2015
With the right palliative care a person with a life limiting condition can live a good quality of life with their dignity maintained and symptoms managed.
Assisted dying is a complex subject that raises challenging ethical questions for hospice care. Hospice New Zealand recognises that across society there is a range of different views, and respects the right of everyone to take an individual position. It is our view that the question of whether there should be a change in the law is one for society to consider and for the parliament to decide.
The term ‘assisted dying’ is often used to describe circumstances in which a person is either helped to end their own life (physician-assisted suicide) or where there is a deliberate act to end a person’s life (euthanasia)
Hospice New Zealand does not support a change in the law to legalise assisted dying in any form. Nor do we consider that a change in the law would be in the best interests of the people we care for.
It is important to stress that hospices’ always work strictly within the law, which currently means it is a criminal action to help someone commit suicide and may result in prosecution.
We believe Government should be investing in palliative care, increasing access to care and support not legalising euthanasia. Only when all New Zealanders have ready access to expert end-of-life care can a balanced debate begin. We support that all New Zealanders have the right to choose where they die.
All people with a life limiting condition should be made aware of options for hospice and palliative care, and should be offered an individual assessment of their needs to ensure that appropriate palliative care is being provided. This should be an integral part of advanced care planning.
We believe that palliative care should be routinely available to all who need it, and Government should ensure that public funding is made available to increase the availability of palliative care, whether provided by the hospital, at home (by the primary health care team), in residential aged care facilities or in hospices.