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Catholic hospitals will defy Queensland euthanasia laws that force them to allow doctors to administer end-of-life drugs in their facilities. Health provider Mater has issued a statement saying it would not accede to the laws signed off by a parliamentary committee and due to go to a vote later this month. “We will not tolerate non­credentialed doctors coming on site, nor will we assist in the provision of voluntary assisted dying (VAD) in any of our facilities,” said Francis Sullivan, chair of the Mater group. “There is a practical solution and it will work for all sides of this debate.” The proposed laws introduced by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk would give individual health workers and institutions the right to opt out of the assisted dying scheme, except in cases when it would cause “unnecessary suffering” to transfer the patient to another facility.

Catholic facilities provide one in five hospital and aged-care beds in Queensland, and want the right to oppose VAD at their facilities, as is the case with South Australian laws.St Vincent’s Health Australia accepts the legislation is all but certain to pass but remains opposed. “Allowing unaccredited doctors to enter hospital rooms, with no notice or permission needed, to assist in a medical procedure to help a patient die is a radical and dangerous undermining of patient safety and should be rejected,” said chief executive Toby Hall. “It’s partly why the Queensland Australian Medical Association is so strongly against the lack of protection for faith-based hospital providers. Mr Hall said St Vincent’s had not run into “any issues” in the two years since euthanasia was legalised in Victoria because its legislation does not attempt to regulate institutional objection.

“It’s also about fairness. The Queensland government is forcing Catholic hospitals, against our values and beliefs, to open our facilities to assisted dying. That’s unsettling and shocking to us” Hall said. Deputy Premier Steven Miles said cases where VAD doctors would offer services at faith-run facilities would be “very rare”. “It is only where it would cause unnecessary suffering to transfer the patient to a provider where those services could be provided,” he said. Institutions that block people’s access to the assisted dying scheme would not be fined, but doctors and providers could be referred to the medical accreditation watchdog. “The law reform commission considered whether there should be penalties and determined there did not need to be,” Mr Miles said. “I expect all of our healthcare providers and aged-care providers will comply with the law.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports