12 Oct 2021

Experts appointed to monitor assisted dying

12:54 pm on 12 October 2021

Three experts have been appointed to monitor assisted dying when it becomes legal in New Zealand from next month.

No caption

Health Minister Andrew Little. File photo Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Health Minister Andrew Little said it was the final step in getting the health system ready for the End of Life Choice Act to take effect.

The Act creates three statutory roles to oversee its operation and the government has appointed three people to one of them, the End of Life Review Committee.

They are a medical ethicist, a doctor specialising in end-of-life care, and a health practitioner.

"The committee will review reports on assisted deaths and report to the Registrar (assisted dying) at the Ministry of Health and to the Minister of Health," Little said.

Funding had also been set aside, through the ministry, to ensure assisted dying is free for those who meet the strict eligibility criteria, he said.

The other body required under the legislation, the Support and Consultation for End of Life in New Zealand group (SCENZ) was appointed in August.

"Its responsibilities include maintaining a list of health practitioners providing assisted-dying services, and helping develop and oversee standards of care," Little said.

The law received 65.1 per cent support in a public referendum held alongside last year's general election and is due to come into force on 7 November.

Members of the first End of Life Review Committee:

Medical ethicist Dr Dana Wensley, a barrister and solicitor of the High Court, has previously worked as a registered nurse, solicitor and a senior research fellow. Since 2015, she has been a lawyer-member of the National Ethics Advisory Committee and a community representative on the Hospital Advisory Committee at Nelson Marlborough District Health Board. She is the current chair of the Tasman District Council's Regulatory Committee and for the Accessibility for All Forum. She received her doctorate in Medical Law and Ethics from King's College in London in 2006.

Brenda Close, director of nursing at Ashburton Rural Health Services since 2018, is also co-chair Māori of both the Nurses Executive New Zealand and the National Nurse Leaders Group. She has 31 years' experience managing and handling sophisticated health needs of people in hospitals and communities across Aotearoa and Australia, with a focus on indigenous health, clinical supervision and corporate and clinical governance.

Dr Jane Greville, a palliative care consultant at Harbour Hospice in Auckland,previously worked as the Medical Officer at North Shore Hospice. She is a representative on the executive of the Aotearoa branch of the Australia and New Zealand Society of Palliative Medicine, and previously served as a member of the Board of Dove Hospice. She has more than 30 years' experience working in health care, primarily in general practice, and has worked specifically in palliative care since 2013.

  • Only 10 percent of health workers 'definitely willing' to carry out euthanasia - survey
  • Referendum preliminary results: Yes to euthanasia reform, no to cannabis