101 Victorian Oncologists (Cancer Specialists) Oppose Assisted Suicide Bill

A letter from 101 Victorian oncologists, sent to all Victorian MPs, illustrates the strong opposition to the Andrews government’s reckless proposal for assisted suicide and euthanasia.

Read the letter below:  

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. 

Contact person -Dr Marion Harris M: 0410689112 E: marion.harris@optusnet.com.au  

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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