The SA Health Voluntary Assisted Dying Policy (PDF 236KB) outlines the requirements for SA Heath services to appropriately, safely and effectively comply with the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2021 (the Act). Local Health Networks have policies and procedures to support effective service delivery for people considering voluntary assisted dying.
Local Health Network (LHN) Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD) Liaison Nurses provide support within regional and metropolitan LHNs to connect people with appropriate services and health professionals in their area.
Additional support is available for people living in regional areas through the SA Voluntary Assisted Dying Care Navigator Service and Regional LHN VAD Liaison Nurse. Refer to your LHN intranet for LHN VAD Liaison Nurse contact information.
Private and non-government health service resources
The following definitions are relevant to private and non-government health services. In this section, a health service establishment means:
- a private hospital within the meaning of the Health Care Act 2008 or other private health facility of a kind prescribed by the regulations or
- the whole or part of any other private institution, facility, building or place that is operated or designed to provide inpatient or outpatient treatment, diagnostic or therapeutic interventions, nursing, rehabilitative, palliative, convalescent, preventative or other health services (including, to avoid doubt, places of short-term respite care) or
- any other health service establishment of a kind prescribed by the regulations.
The extent to which a health service establishment participates in voluntary assisted dying will depend on several factors, such as having staff with the appropriate skills and expertise, the capacity to provide this service, and the values, principles and ethos of the service.
A prescribed health facility means:
- an incorporated or private hospital within the meaning of the Health Care Act 2008 or
- a residential care service or aged care service or
- a supported residential facility under the Supported Residential Facilities Act 1992 or
- a treatment centre within the meaning of the Mental Health Act 2009 or
- any other facility of a kind prescribed by the regulations.
A relevant service provider means a person or body that operates a health service establishment.
What do private and non-government health services need to do?
From 31 January 2023, health service establishments will need to be able to appropriately respond to a person who:
- requests information about voluntary assisted dying
- requests access to voluntary assisted dying.
A request for access may include assessment for eligibility, as well as support for self-administration of the voluntary assisted dying medication or, in some instances, practitioner administration of the medication.
Health service establishment considerations
Relevant health service providers should consider:
- how the service can facilitate the Voluntary Assisted Dying Pathway and support people requesting access to voluntary assisted dying, their family, friends and carers
- the type of service or care usually provided, and whether this includes people who may be eligible for voluntary assisted dying
- how the service can provide or facilitate access to medical practitioners who are eligible and have completed the mandatory training
- staff willingness to participate in voluntary assisted dying or in supporting a person who chooses to access voluntary assisted dying
- the practical implications of providing voluntary assisted dying, such as governance structures, clinical service planning, credentialing, and staff education.
Rights to conscientious objection
The Act gives relevant service providers the right to refuse to authorise or permit the carrying out of any part of the voluntary assisted dying process at the establishment (including any request or assessment process).
A relevant service provider may include, in the terms and conditions of acceptance of any patient into the health service, an acknowledgment by the patient that the patient:
- understands and accepts that the relevant service provider will not permit the establishment to be used for the purposes of, or incidental to, voluntary assisted dying, and
- agrees, as a condition of entry, that they will not seek or demand access to voluntary assisted dying at the establishment.
Obligations to provide advice and transfer patients
If a patient at a health service establishment advises a person employed or engaged by the relevant service provider at that health service establishment that they wish to access voluntary assisted dying, then the relevant service provider who operates the establishment must ensure that:
- the patient is advised of the relevant service provider's refusal to authorise or permit the carrying out at the health service establishment of any part of the voluntary assisted dying process; and
- arrangements are in place whereby the patient may be transferred to another health service establishment or prescribed health facility at which, in the opinion of the relevant service provider, a registered health practitioner who does not have a conscientious objection to voluntary assisted dying is likely to be able to participate in a voluntary assisted dying process in relation to the patient; and
- reasonable steps are taken to facilitate the transfer if requested by the patient.
This section does not apply to, or in relation to, a patient accepted into a health service establishment before 31 January 2023.