On 6 March 2023, some parts of the Assisted Dying Service were transferred from Manatū Hauora (Ministry of Health) to Te Whatu Ora - Health New Zealand as part of the wider health reforms to achieve Pae Ora.
Te Whatu Ora is now responsible for overseeing and monitoring all operational aspects of the Assisted Dying Service, including collecting data and generating summary reports. Information continues to be released quarterly, in line with the calendar year.
Some quarterly data (such as the number of applications by month and region) cannot be reported to protect the privacy of the people engaging with the service, due to low numbers.
Please note that the current report reflects a summary of individuals’ interactions with the Assisted Dying Service within the three-month period ending 30 June 23. Accordingly, medical assessments and outcomes may refer to applications initiated in a prior quarter.
A more detailed reporting of the cumulative data across the first year of service (November 2021 - November 2022) is available on the Te Whatu Ora website: Assisted Dying Service yearly reporting.
Assisted dying service activities this quarter
Overview of assisted dying service
Between 1 April 2023 and 30 June 2023, the service received 190 applications for assisted dying. There were also 52 applications active that had been initiated before this quarterly reporting period.
Attending medical practitioners (AMPs) completed 183 assessments and independent medical practitioners (IMPs) completed 134 assessments. Psychiatrists also completed some assessments (number withheld for privacy protection) in this period. In total, 142 applications were confirmed as eligible.
AMPs facilitated 88 assisted deaths during this quarter.
Of the applications reviewed during this period, 50 were still in progress as of 30 June 2023.
During this quarter, 104 applications did not proceed to an assisted death due to:
- the application being found to not comply with The End of Life Choice Act 2019
- the applicant withdrawing their application
- the applicant is found non-eligible or not competent to give consent at, or following, assessment
- the applicant dying as a result of underlying conditions.
Of the 190 applications received during this quarter:
- 93.7% were Pākehā
- 6.3% were Māori
- 51.1% were Male/Tāne
- 81.1% were aged 65 years or older
- 73.2% were receiving palliative care at the time of the application
- 65.8% had a diagnosis of cancer.
Demographic summary of applications
A demographic summary of the 190 applications received this quarter is presented in Table 1 below.
Table 1: Demographics of people that have applied for assisted dying services in the period
|Demographic summary||Applications3||% of applications|
|Age Group||18-44 years||3||1.6%|
|Chronic Respiratory Disease||7||3.7%|
|Other organ failures||8||4.2%|
|Receiving palliative care at the time of application?||Yes||139||73.2%|
|Reported a disability at the time of application?||Yes||25||13.2%|
- Total ethnicity has been used. This means that individuals reporting more than one ethnicity are included within each category to which they identify. Ethnicity in this report is based on patient records in the health system, while in the previous reports ethnicity in the application form was used.
- Total diagnosis has been used. This means that individuals presenting with multiple diagnoses are included within each applicable diagnostic category.
- Valid repeat applications are included as unique instances. This means, in cases where an individual submits multiple applications during this period, their information is recorded in the demographic data each time.
- ‘Diagnosis not known’ includes individuals who have applied but have not yet completed their first assessment with their AMP as well as those that withdrew, died before this assessment was completed, or were ineligible.
Assisted deaths by location
Between 1 April 2023 and 30 June 2023, 88 people had an assisted death. Assisted deaths can take place at the person’s home or elsewhere in the community. The summary by location is:
- 75 (or 85.2%) at the person’s home or another private property
- 9 (or 10.2%) in a public hospital
- 4 (or 4.5%) in a community facility (e.g. aged residential care, hospice).
SCENZ group practitioner lists
The Support and Consultation for End of Life in New Zealand group (SCENZ) is responsible for maintaining the list of medical practitioners and psychiatrists involved in providing assisted dying services.
Medical practitioners can be on the SCENZ list for more than one role, depending on their scope of practice (AMP, IMP, Psychiatrist).
As of 30 June 2023, 134 medical practitioners (including Doctors, and Psychiatrists) and 13 attending Nurse Practitioners (ANP) were on the SCENZ list. A growing number of health practitioners have chosen to provide services as AMP for their own patients without registering to be included as SCENZ members. A portion of these health practitioners have subsequently chosen to join the SCENZ group and to make themselves available to additional patients.