Melbourne News

101 oncologists oppose assisted suicide legislation

Wednesday 20 September 2017

Letter sent to Parliament of Victoria, 19 September 2017
 
Dear Victorian Parliamentary Representative,
 
We, the undersigned 101 Victorian Oncologists (cancer specialists), request that you vote AGAINST the proposed Victorian Assisted Dying Bill 2017.
 
As 80% of those who access physician assisted dying legally overseas have cancer, we feel our perspective on this issue should be heard.
 
We add our voices to the 100 palliative care specialists who have already corresponded with you requesting that you oppose the passage of this bill.
 
We collectively represent a significant proportion of the oncology workforce in the state of Victoria.
 
We do not believe that it is possible to draft assisted dying laws that have adequate safeguards to protect vulnerable populations, especially those with incurable cancer, progressive neurological illness, the aged and disabled. These groups of people experience high rates of depression and isolation. The risks that such legislation poses for the majority of these outweigh any benefits for the few in our opinion.
 
Physician assisted dying places people at risk of coercion that is both active and passive. As a consequence of assisted dying laws, society re-assesses the value of life; and the individual is taught to devalue their own life. Those with serious illness may perceive that they are a burden on society or their carers and come to feel that assisted dying is appropriate for them.
 
Assisted dying laws are easily challenged from a human rights and equality perspective. Indications over time will be extended beyond adults with terminal illness, to those with mental illness alone, dementia, disability, children and the healthy elderly who have “completed lives”. In Oregon USA in June 2017 the senate debated a bill that would allow demented patients and others with “mental incompetence” to be starved to death. Oregon is not a lead that we wish to follow.
 
Physician assisted death is not, by definition, medical treatment. It is not palliative care. We as doctors and medical specialists do not want to intentionally end the lives of our patients, or provide them with the direct means to do so. Assisted suicide is in conflict with the basic ethical principles and integrity of medical practice and undermines trust in the medical profession. We strive to eliminate suffering but not the sufferers themselves.
 
Where cure of cancer is not possible, we seek optimal palliative care services to support and care for patients and their families at the end of life. Without easy access to quality palliative care, some may request physician assisted dying as they feel they have no other choice. This is especially so for people who live in rural, regional and remote areas and for people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities who have less access to palliative care services.
 
We are very disappointed that discussion of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill has dominated the agenda to improve end of life care in Victoria. We are dismayed that the multiple recommendations made by the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into End of Life Choices (June 2016) to strengthen palliative care have not been actioned. Until this is addressed, discussing physician assisted dying is premature.
 
In June 2017 the NSW government allocated an extra $100 million to fund palliative care services over 4 years, particularly to provide extra funds for community palliative care services and for rural and regional NSW. Need in these same areas has been identified by the Victorian End of Life Choices report. Palliative Care Victoria’s figures demonstrate that an extra $65 million per year is required to meet deficits and adequately cover future cost projections in these areas. Such funding is essential if dying Victorians are to be adequately cared for in their homes with adequate supports for both them and their families.
 
We call for improved funding of palliative care services in Victoria, for the benefit of all Victorians, but especially those who live with incurable cancer and their families.
 
This will go some way to ensuring that fear of suffering does not dictate a person’s final hours, nor the memories their loved ones will carry throughout their own lives.
 
The United Kingdom parliament resoundingly rejected an Assisted Dying bill in 2015 as there is no “safe system” and we urge the Victorian parliament to do the same.
 
Yours sincerely,
 
The undersigned 101 Victorian Cancer specialists.
 
The listed signatories support this statement as individual health professionals and not as representatives of any hospital or other organisation with which they are associated.
 
Alamgeer ,Dr Mohammed Medical Oncologist
Monash Health
 
Amarasena, Dr Isuru Radiation Oncology Trainee
Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
 
Bae, Dr Susie Medical Oncologist
Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
 
Bahzadigohar, Dr Ramin Medical Oncologist
Monash Health
 
Barnett, Dr Frances Medical Oncologist
Northern Health
 
Bond, Dr Rodney Medical Oncologist
Melton Health
 
Boolel , Dr Vishal Medical Oncologist
Ballarat Health Services
 
Brady, Dr Benjamin Medical Oncologist
Cabrini Health
 
Brown, Dr Stephen Medical Oncologist
Ballarat Health Services
 
Carden , Dr Craig Medical Oncologist
Ballarat Cancer Care
 
Cebon , Professor Jonathan Medical Oncologist
Austin Health
 
Chong , Dr Geoff Medical Oncologist
Austin and Northern Health
 
Chong , Dr/Mr Chilton Surgical Oncologist
Monash Health
 
Chu, Dr Julie Radiation Oncology Trainee
Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
 
Chua , Dr Sue Medical Oncologist
Eastern Health
 
Coleman , Dr Andrew Radiation Oncologist
Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
 
Collins, Associate Professor Ian Medical Oncologist
South West Reg. Cancer Centre Warnambool
 
Cooray, Dr Prasad Medical Oncologist
Eastern Health
 
Croagh , Dr/Mr Daniel Surgical Oncologist - Gastrointestinal Surgeon
Monash Health
 
Cullinan, Dr/Mr Mark Surgical Oncologist - Gastrointestinal Surgeon
Monash Health
 
David , Dr Steven Radiation Oncologist
Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
 
Davis, Professor Ian Medical Oncologist
Eastern Health
 
Dawson, Associate Professor Sarah –Jane Medical Oncologist
Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
 
Delahunty, Dr Rachel Medical Oncologist
Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
 
Doughton, Dr Jacki Radiation Oncologist
Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
 
Dwyer, Dr Mary Radiation Oncologist
Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
 
Faisal, Dr Wasek Medical Oncologist
Ballarat Health Services
 
Fallah, Dr Ali Medical Oncologist
LaTrobe Regional Hospital
 
Fleming , Dr Shaun Malignant Haematologist
Alfred Hospital
 
Fox, Dr/Miss Jane Surgical oncologist/ Breast Surgeon
Monash Health
 
Francis , Dr Heather Medical Oncologist
Ballarat Cancer Care
 
Francis, Associate Professor Prudence Medical Oncologist
Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
 
Ganju, Associate Professor Vinod Medical Oncologist
Monash Health and Peninsula Health
 
Geddes, Dr Katherine Medical Oncologist
St Vincents Hospital
 
Goss, Dr Geraldine Medical Oncologist
Eastern Health and Ringwood Private Hospital
 
Grant , Associate Professor Peter Gynaecologist Oncologist
Mercy Hospital for Women
 
Green, Professor Michael Medical Oncologist
Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
 
Grossi, Dr Marisa Medical Oncologist
Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
 
Hafeez, Dr Umbreen Medical Oncologist
Austin Health
 
Haines , Associate Professor Ian Medical Oncologist
Cabrini Health
 
Harris , Dr Marion Medical Oncologist
Monash Health
 
Haydon, Dr Andrew Medical Oncologist
Alfred Hospital and Cabrini Health
 
Hayes , Dr Terri Medical Oncologist
South West Reg. Cancer Centre , Warnambool
 
Jamal. Dr Shafaet Medical Oncologist
LaTrobe Regional Hospital
 
James , Dr Philip Medical Oncologist
Ringwood Private Hospital
 
Jefford , Associate Professor Michael Medical Oncologist
Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
 
Joshi, Dr Sachin Medical Oncologist
LaTrobe Regional Hospital
 
Kannourakis, Professor George Medical Oncologist
Ballarat Oncology
 
Kwan, Dr Edmond Medical Oncologist
Monash Health
 
Lee , Dr Belinda Medical Oncologist
Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
 
Lickliter, Dr Jason Medical Oncologist
Alfred Hospital
 
Liew , Dr Sem Medical Oncologist
Monash Health
 
Lim, Dr Lionel Medical Oncologist
Eastern Health and Ringwood Private Hospital
 
Lim, Dr Ming Sheng Malignant Haematology advanced trainee
Monash Health
 
Lipton, Associate Professor Lara Medical Oncologist
Cabrini Health
 
Loi, Associate Professor Sherene Medical Oncologist
Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
 
Lundy , Dr Jo Medical Oncologist
Peninsula Oncology
 
Manolitsas, Dr Tom Gynaecologist Oncologist
Monash Health
 
Mathai, Dr Jared Medical Oncology advanced trainee
Cabrini Health
 
Menon , Dr Sid Medical Oncology advanced trainee
Monash Health
 
Michael, Associate Professor Michael Medical Oncologist
Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
 
Mileshkin, Associate Professor Linda Medical Oncologist
Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
 
Ngan ,Dr Sam Radiation Oncologist
Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
 
Ooi, Dr/Miss Corinne Surgical oncologist/ Breast Surgeon
Monash Health
 
Parente, Associate Professor Phillip Medical Oncologist
Eastern Health and Epworth Hospital
 
Pellegrini , Dr Laura Medical Oncologist
Eastern Health
 
Phillips , Dr Claire Radiation Oncologist
Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
 
Phillips, Prof Kelly-Anne Medical Oncologist
Melbourne
 
Pook, Dr David Medical Oncologist
Monash Health and Cabrini Health
 
Pope, Dr Kathy Radiation Oncologist
Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
 
Rajasooriyar, Dr Crishanthi Radiation Oncology Trainee
Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
 
Rowe, Dr Catherine Medical Oncology advanced trainee
St Vincents Hospital
 
Ryan, Dr Gail Radiation Oncologist
Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
 
Semira , Dr Christine Medical Oncology advanced trainee
Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
 
Shackleton, Professor Mark Medical Oncologist
Alfred Hospital
 
Shapiro, Associate Professor Jeremy Medical Oncologist
Cabrini Health
 
Spilias, Dr/Mr Dean Surgical Oncologist/ Bowel Surgeon
Monash Health
 
Stefanou, Dr Greg Medical Oncologist
John Fawkner Oncology , Coburg
 
Stewart, Dr Jo Medical Oncologist
Austin Health
 
Strach, Dr Madeleine Medical Oncology advanced trainee
Austin Health
 
Strickland , Associate Professor Andrew Medical Oncologist
Monash Health
 
Sycamnias , Dr John Medical Oncologist
St John of God , Ballarat
 
Tamjid, Dr Babrak Medical Oncologist
Goulburn Valley Health and Peninsula Health
 
Tan , Dr Jennifer Radiation Oncologist
Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
 
Tatarczuch, Dr Maciej Malignant Haematology advanced trainee
Monash Health
 
Teoh, Dr/Mr William Surgical Oncologist /Bowel surgeon
Monash Health
 
Tie , Associate Professor Jeanne Medical Oncologist
Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
 
Tiong, Dr Ing Soo Medical Oncologist
Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
 
Tiu , Dr Crescens Medical Oncology advanced trainee
Eastern Health
 
Tran , Dr Ben Medical Oncologist
Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
 
Tsan, Dr/ Mr Cyril Tsan Surgical Oncologist /Breast Surgeon
Monash Health
 
Tseng, Dr Michelle Radiation Oncology Trainee
Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
 
Voskoboynik, Dr Mark Medical Oncologist
Alfred Hospital
 
Warren , Dr Mark Medical Oncologist
Bendigo Health
 
White , Associate Professor Shane Medical Oncologist
Austin and Northern Health
 
White, Dr Karen Medical Oncologist
Barwon Health Cancer Services
 
Wong , Dr Jonathan Malignant Haematology advanced trainee
Monash Health
 
Wong, Dr Vanessa Medical Oncology advanced trainee
Ballarat Health Services
 
Woodruff, Dr Roger Medical Oncologist
Austin Health
 
Wu, Dr Min Medical Oncologist
Monash Health
 
Zalcberg, Professor John Medical Oncologist
Alfred Health
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