Implementation of the Assisted Dying Service

Find out about the Ministry’s work to implement the Act and establish the Assisted Dying Service.

Establishing a new health service

The Ministry of Health is responsible for the implementation of the End of Life Choice Act 2019, and oversight and funding of the Assisted Dying Service. In the 12-months leading up to 7 November 2021, when assisted dying became legally available, the Ministry delivered the implementation programme for the Act. The implementation programme aimed to deliver a functional Assisted Dying Service, and ensure that:

  • medical and nurse practitioners who offer to provide assisted dying services to eligible people are trained and available
  • the wider health workforce is aware of the Act, their obligations under the Act, including the right to conscientious objection
  • the Support and Consultation for End of Life in New Zealand (SCENZ) group; and the Review Committee and the Registrar (assisted dying) were established
  • administrative systems, regulations, and professional guidance, information and supports were in place; and
  • public information about the assisted dying service is available and health practitioners can provide information to people about the SCENZ group if appropriate.

Wide engagement with the health and disability sector was a key element of the implementation of the Act and the new assisted dying services. This engagement is ongoing during the establishment with the disability sector, Māori led primary health organisations, Pacific primary health organisations, professional colleges, councils, unions, and other health organisations.

Implementation governance group

The Ministry’s implementation programme was overseen by a governance group with the following membership:

  • Deputy Director-General – Health System Improvement and Innovation – Co-Chair    
  • Deputy Director-General – Māori Health – Co-Chair     
  • Deputy Director-General – System Strategy and Policy
  • Chief Nursing Officer – Ministry of Health    
  • Chief Medical Officer – Ministry of Health    
  • DHB Chief Executive
  • Member of the Council of Medical Colleges    
  • Member of Te Apārangi: Māori Partnership Alliance

Number of people expected to seek access to the service 

The number of people that may seek assisted dying is expected to be small. In overseas jurisdictions of Victoria, Oregon, and Canada, assisted dying accounts for between 0.3 percent and 2 percent of all deaths. Based on overseas experiences, the Ministry estimates up to 950 people could apply for assisted dying each year, with up to 350 being assisted to die.

There is uncertainty about what the actual demand will be, given that this has never been provided in New Zealand before, and that the rules for assisted dying are different in other jurisdictions.

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