Supplementary Order Paper No 302

New clauses 18C to 18H

After clause 18B (page 17), insert:

18C Independent Panel of Practitioners to determine whether pressure present

(1)

The Minister of Justice must establish the Independent Panel of Practitioners (the Panel), to be administered by the Ministry of Justice.

(2)

The Panel is an independent specialist body of an inquisitorial nature, established for the purpose of ensuring that requests for assisted dying are not made as a result of coercion or other forms of pressure.

(3)

The Panel must comprise no less than 12 members, being—

(a)

a chairperson, who must be a District Court Judge:

(b)

expert medical practitioners (including experts in geriatric care, psychology, and adolescent mental health):

(c)

expert legal practitioners:

(d)

expert social workers:

(e)

elder abuse experts:

(f)

other experts that the Minister considers appropriate.

(4)

For the purposes of subsection (3), an expert must be a person who has gained at least 15 years of experience practising in their field.

(5)

The chair of the Panel is to be appointed by the Governor-General on the advice of the Attorney-General, given after consultation with the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Health, and the Minister for Seniors.

(6)

The members of the Panel are to be appointed by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Minister of Justice made in consultation with the Minister of Health and the Minister for Seniors, and may hold office for such period not exceeding 5 years as is fixed in each member’s warrant of appointment.

(7)

The chairperson or any member of the Panel may be reappointed.

(8)

None of the following persons may be appointed as a member of the Panel:

(a)

any member of the SCENZ Group:

(b)

any member of the Review Committee.

18D Functions of Panel

(1)

The functions of the Panel are to—

(a)

consider, in committees comprising no less than four members, requests to receive assisted dying that have been made by persons under this Act; and

(b)

determine whether a request to receive assisted dying has or may have been partly or wholly influenced by pressure from any person or circumstance; and

(c)

complete a written Report (the Report) recording its determination; and

(d)

send the Report to—

(i)

the attending medical practitioner; and

(ii)

the independent medical practitioner; and

(iii)

the Registrar; and

(e)

report annually to the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Health, and the Minister for Seniors, as set out in section 18I.

(2)

The Panel may make findings of fact and a final determination to further its functions under subsection (1)(a) to (c).

18E Procedure of Panel

(1)

The Panel may regulate its procedures as it sees fit, subject to the following provisions of this Act and to any regulations made under this Act.

(2)

Each committee of the Panel must consist of—

(a)

at least 1 expert medical practitioner and 1 expert legal practitioner:

(b)

in cases involving a determination in respect of a person aged over 60 years, at least 1 expert medical practitioner, 1 expert legal practitioner, and 1 elder abuse expert:

(c)

in cases involving a determination in respect of a person aged under 20 years, at least 1 expert legal practitioner and 1 expert medical practitioner with a speciality in adolescent mental health.

18F Role of Panel chairperson

The chairperson of the Panel is responsible for—

(a)

making such arrangements as are practicable to ensure that the members of the Panel discharge their functions in an orderly and expeditious manner; and

(b)

directing the education, training, and professional development of members of the Panel; and

(c)

dealing with any complaints made about members of the Panel; and

(d)

issuing practice notes (not inconsistent with this Act or any regulations made under it) for the purposes of regulating the practice and procedure of the Panel; and

(e)

developing a code of conduct for members of the Panel; and

(f)

requiring particular members of the Panel to determine particular requests, subject to subsection (2).

18G Procedure for determining pressure

(1)

The Registrar must send a copy of any completed request form sent under section 9(5)(c) and any completed first opinion form sent under section 10(3)(b) to the chairperson of the Panel immediately following their receipt of those forms from an attending medical practitioner.

(2)

Before making a determination under section 18D(1)(b), the Panel must, in respect of a request by any person to receive assisted dying under this Act, do all of the following:

(a)

review the person’s completed request form and the attending medical practitioner’s first opinion form; and

(b)

review such records from the person’s medical history that the Panel reasonably requests the person to authorise the disclosure of; and

(c)

review the person’s current home or place of residence; and

(d)

review the person’s living will (if in existence); and

(e)

review the person’s financial and property affairs; and

(f)

refer the person to an independent psychiatrist for a written evaluation of their current mental state, and consider that evaluation; and

(g)

meet and interview the person; and

(h)

meet and interview those members of the person’s family and any friends or relatives of the person whom it reasonably considers necessary to assist it for the purpose of making a determination; and

(i)

interview other medical practitioners who are treating or who have treated the person, including the attending medical practitioner; and

(j)

interview (if applicable) the person’s usual lawyer and usual accountant; and

(k)

make and retain a recording of all interviews.

(3)

In making a determination under section 18D(1)(b), the Panel must consider whether any person or organisation may stand to gain financially or otherwise by the person receiving assisted dying, and whether the person is or may be exercising their wish as a result of any one or any combination of factors including, but not limited to,—

(a)

familial coercion or other familial pressure:

(b)

medical or institutional coercion or other medical or institutional pressure:

(c)

familial neglect:

(d)

medical or institutional neglect:

(e)

societal neglect:

(f)

any failure or failures of care or treatment by the New Zealand health system in respect of the person:

(g)

any adverse mental health condition:

(h)

any other form of pressure.

(4)

The Panel must complete and send its Report to the recipients listed in section 18D(1)(d) with all reasonable diligence and speed.

18H Procedure to be followed once Report compiled

(1)

The independent medical practitioner must not reach an opinion as to the eligibility of a person for assisted dying under section 11(3) until that practitioner has received a Report from the Panel in respect of the person.

(2)

If the Report from the Panel determines that a person requesting assisted dying has or may have been partly or wholly influenced by pressure from any person or circumstance, the attending medical practitioner or independent medical practitioner must—

(a)

take no further action under this Act to assist the person in exercising the option of receiving assisted dying; and

(b)

tell the person that they are taking no further action under this Act to assist the person in exercising the option of receiving assisted dying; and

(c)

provide a copy of the Report to the person; and

(d)

complete an approved form recording—

(i)

that they have received the Report and provided a copy of the Report to the person; and

(ii)

that they are taking no further action under this Act to assist the person in exercising the option of receiving assisted dying; and

(iii)

the actions they have taken to comply with paragraph (b); and

(e)

send the form completed under paragraph (d) to the Registrar.

(3)

Nothing in this section limits or overrides the obligation on an attending medical practitioner or nurse practitioner to take no further action in the circumstances set out in section 18B of this Act.

18I Annual report on performance of Panel’s functions

(1)

The chairperson of the Panel must, in each year, provide a report to the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Health, and the Minister for Seniors on the performance of the Panel’s functions under this Act in respect of the preceding year.

(2)

The report must include the following details:

(a)

the number of determinations made by the Panel in the period to which the report relates; and

(b)

the nature of the determinations made by the Panel in the same period, in particular—

(i)

how many requests for assisted dying it determined had been or may have been partly or wholly influenced by pressure from by any person or circumstance; and

(ii)

if any such determinations were made, which types of pressure listed in section 18G(3)(a) to (h) the Panel detected; and

(c)

any features or characteristics of the requests it determined during the same period that give the Panel any cause for concern; and

(d)

any recommendations the Panel may see fit to make to the Ministers.