23 December 2015
For Immediate Release
Matt Vickers, widower of the late Lecretia Seales, has concurred with Health Minister Jonathan Coleman and welcomed Te Ara Whakapiri: Principles and Guidance for the Last Days of Life, which was published by the Ministry of Health on Monday. He also expressed admiration for the government’s $76m in funding for palliative care in the 2015 budget. But he has warned that neither of these initiatives address all end-of-life issues.
Mr Vickers said: “In Seales v Attorney General, Justice Collins ruled that palliative care can not help all dying patients. Both the plaintiff and defendant’s witnesses in the case were agreed on this, some of whom appear as authors of Te Ara Whakapiri. There are a few for whom palliative care will be of little or no benefit. Assisted dying legislation would complement palliative care, so that those that cannot be helped by it have better options than starving to death or being terminally sedated to avoid pain.”
“It’s those that palliative care can help the least that need assisted dying legislation the most.”
Mr Vickers said: “It is good that the Health Select Committee is investigating end of life issues, because Lecretia’s case raised an important question: what do we do for those patients that palliative care can’t help? What choices are they entitled to? Those questions are not answered by these guidelines. But those questions deserve answers.”