End of Life Choice Act statutory bodies and governance

The Ministry of Health is responsible for implementing the End of Life Choice Act 2019 (the Act). This includes making any regulations, developing policy, and providing guidance to the health sector.

The Act creates three statutory roles within the health system to oversee assisted dying and make sure the processes outlined in the Act are followed. 

The three roles are:

This page also has information about the role of the Ministry.

The Support and Consultation for End of Life in New Zealand (SCENZ) group

The SCENZ group is a statutory body for the assisted dying service It is required to be established under the Act and was formally established on 1 August 2021.

Responsibilities of the group include maintaining the list of medical practitioners and psychiatrists involved in providing assisted dying services; providing contact details for replacement, or independent medical practitioners as part of the service; and providing the contact details for when psychiatrists may be required.

The SCENZ group will support the development of the standards of care for medicines as part of the implementation of the Act being led by the Ministry of health. The SCENZ group will have oversight of the standards and will work closely with the secretariat of the assisted dying service at the Ministry of Health once the assisted dying service becomes legally available from 7 November 2021. 

The SCENZ group brings collective experience in the awareness of Te Ao Māori and an understanding of Tikanga Māori; expertise in ethics and law, and the disability sector; and includes representation of the views of patients, whānau and the community.

The eleven members are appointed by the Director-General of Health for a term of two years. Membership includes practising medical practitioners, a practising psychiatrist, a practising pharmacist, and a practising nurse practitioner.

The SCENZ group members are:

Nicole Anderson (Ngāpuhi) brings experience in working with Māori, iwi, hāpu, whānau and Māori communities along with a knowledge of te ao Māori. She works primarily with public sector and private sector organisations advancing Māori and iwi interests. As a Chartered Director, with a background in health, business development and accountancy she currently sits on a variety of Crown and private entity Boards. A business owner in both the manufacturing and retail sectors, with a varied career that has led to a practical approach to governance. Ms Anderson is a Co-Chair of the SCENZ group.

Dr Caroline Ansley, New Zealand Pakeha, is a general practitioner based in Christchurch. She is a fellow of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners. In addition to her clinical expertise, Dr Ansley is a senior clinical editor for Community Healthpathways, and through this role, is able to facilitate communication about the implementation of the act to general practice teams, and to feedback concerns from general practice about its practical implementation to the SCENZ Group. Dr Ansley believes she can contribute to the SCENZ Group by utilising her experience in working with diverse groups of stakeholders to provide streamlined consistent delivery of care.

Dr Michael Austen, New Zealand European, is a specialist physician in Occupational and Environmental Medicine and in Urgent Care and is based in Wellington. Dr Austen is a Fellow of both the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and the Royal New Zealand College of Urgent Care. He is also an enrolled barrister and solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand. Dr Austen works in clinical practice in Urgent Care and as a clinical advice manager for ACC. In his ACC role, he provides oversight of the clinical advice that specialist clinical staff provide within ACC’s legislative framework.  Dr Austen will contribute to the SCENZ Group in preparing standards of care and advising on the required medical and legal procedures.

Dr Kynan Bazley, New Zealand European, is currently a general practitioner based in Nelson. He has recently returned from remote family medicine general practice in Canada where he was a physician lead for the Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) program in a rural region. He has assessed and provided MAiD services to patients. Dr Bazley has also worked in palliative care delivery. Dr Bazley is a member of the Ministry’s informal sector advisory network that has been established as part of the End of Life Choice Act implementation programme.

Heather Browning, New Zealand European, is a director and owner of a company providing service audits and projects, largely in the disability sector. She’s a member of the consumer reference group of Te Aho o Te Kahu, Cancer Control Agency and is an elected member of MidCentral DHB. Ms Browning has held a number of governance and board roles, including ministerial appointed roles.  In addition to her work and volunteer experience in the disability sector, Ms Browning has recent personal experience of family members in end of life care and believes her insights will assist with the work of the SCENZ Group.

Dr Gary Cheung, Chinese, is currently a specialist old age psychiatrist working at the University of Auckland and Auckland District Health Board.  Dr Cheung holds a PhD in Psychiatry and is the Director of Academic Programme for the Northern Region Psychiatry Training Programme. He is recognised as a leader in post-graduate psychiatry training and has published extensively. Dr Cheung has particular expertise in capacity assessment training and research, suicide prevention in older adults and working with Māori, Pacific and Asian communities. Dr Cheung is a member of the Ministry’s informal sector advisory network that has been established as part of the End of Life Choice Act implementation programme.

Máté Hegedus-Gaspar, European, is currently a pharmacist and pharmacy manager based in Christchurch. He holds a Master of Laws (Hons) and is aiming to be admitted as a lawyer this year. Mr Hegedus-Gaspar has also worked as a teaching assistant at Lincoln University tutoring in commercial law. He has studied and written on pharmacy and legal aspects of assisted dying. Since 2019 he has been the Secretary of the Independent Pharmacists Association of New Zealand. Mr Hegedus-Gaspar was previously a pharmacy owner and a member of the Pharmacy Council of Hungary.

Dr Te Hurinui Karaka-Clarke, Te Arawa, Ngāi Tahu, is currently the Deputy Head of School/Senior Lecturer at the College of Education at the University of Canterbury, based in Christchurch. Dr Karaka-Clarke holds qualifications in Te Reo Māori and is able to read, write, speak, understand spoken and peer review Te Reo, and has numerous publications and conference presentations in his chosen field. He has expressed a personal interest in the process of end of life care and is willing to share his knowledge about custom and protocols that will guide and impact the work of the SCENZ Group.

Leanne Manson, Ngāti Tama Ki Te Tauihu, Te Ātiawa, is currently a Policy Analyst Māori for the New Zealand Nurses Organisation based in Wellington. She is a Registered Nurse with a Bachelor’s degree in Māori studies and a Master’s degree in Public Health and has an in-depth understanding of Te Reo and Tikanga Maōri. She is published in her chosen areas of academic interest. Ms Manson has governance experience on several iwi boards and organisations, including as an iwi representative on a District Health Board (DHB). Her Masters’ thesis was on the topic of Māori nurse’s perspective of assisted dying. Ms Manson feels she can contribute to the SCENZ Group to improve and guide cultural care in end of life care settings.

Philip Patston, New Zealand European, is a company director and owner based in Auckland. Originally a social worker, Mr Patston’s work focuses on leading change in organisations that embraces curiosity and enquiry into diversity, complexity and uncertainty. He has considerable board and governance experience. Mr Patston brings skills in governance, leadership development, change and project management.

Dr Jackie Robinson, New Zealand European, is a Senior Lecturer and Nurse Practitioner at the University of Auckland.  She has worked as a lead nurse practitioner in palliative care based in Auckland working in the acute hospital and residential aged care settings. She has previously been co-chair of the Auckland DHB clinical ethics advisory group and a member of the Ministry of Health Palliative Care advisory group. Dr Robinson holds a PhD and has published extensively. Her area of research focuses on equity in palliative and end of life care, for which she has received multiple awards. Dr Robinson holds a number of governance roles and has considerable working group, committee and board experience.

Dr Jessica Young, New Zealand European, is a post-doctoral fellow at the School of Health, Victoria University of Wellington, based in Wellington. Dr Young has extensive experience researching assisted dying using a variety of methods. To continue sharing the views of the terminally ill people who Dr Young interviewed for her PhD research, she was part of a non-partisan campaign that sought to provide high-quality evidence-based information during the End of Life Choice referendum. Dr Young brings skills in research, data collection and stakeholder engagement, and an in-depth knowledge of the relevant international legislation. She is a member of the Ministry’s informal sector advisory network that has been established as part of the End of Life Choice Act implementation programme.

Registration for the SCENZ lists

An important part of the role of the SCENZ group is to maintain lists of medical and nurse practitioners and psychiatrists.

The Act requires the SCENZ group to oversee assisted dying service lists for:

  • replacement attending medical practitioners (where a person seeks the name of a practitioner to provide the service for them. This practitioner will support someone who is terminally ill to make an application for assisted dying, and undertake a first assessment)
  • independent medical practitioners (to undertake the second independent assessment)
  • psychiatrists (required if one or both of the initial assessments was unable to determine that the person is competent to make a decision).

The SCENZ group will also hold a list of willing nurse practitioners. Nurse practitioners can be involved in the planning of assisted dying with the person and their whānau, and can be with the person to administer medicines or supervise self -administration if that is what the person chooses.

If a person requests assisted dying from a medical practitioner who does not provide assisted dying services due to a conscientious objection, the medical practitioner is legally required to inform the person of their objection and tell the person they have the right to ask the SCENZ group for the name and contact details of a medical practitioner who is willing to participate in assisted dying. 

A person will also be able to contact the SCENZ group directly for help to find a medical practitioner if they do not want to speak to their own medical practitioner about assisted dying. 

Registrations of interest for medical practitioners and psychiatrists to be included on the SCENZ lists opened in mid-August 2021. The list registration will remain open over time, and will be enduring. 

  • Medical practitioners, nurse practitioners, and psychiatrists interested in being included on the SCENZ lists can find more information and express interest here: Access the Expression of Interest

The SCENZ lists and information held will be secure. The lists will be drawn on by the SCENZ group, who will work with the assisted dying service secretariat at the Ministry, to connect eligible people with practitioners as required.

The Ministry continues to work directly with the health and disability sector as part of the implementation of the Act. This includes ongoing engagement with Māori health providers, including to ensure Māori practitioners who may wish to provide assisted dying services are aware of the SCENZ list registration processes.

The SCENZ group contact details will be available on this website from 7 November 2021 when assisted dying becomes legally available.

The End of Life Review Committee

The End of Life Review Committee will be appointed by the Minister of Health. The Committee will include a medical ethicist, a doctor specialising in end-of-life care, and one other health practitioner.

The role of the Committee will be to:

  • consider reports provided by the doctor or nurse practitioner about the assisted death of a person under the Act
  • report to the Registrar whether it considers that the information contained in assisted death reports shows satisfactory compliance with the requirements of the Act
  • direct the Registrar to follow up on any information contained in an assisted death report if it considers the report does not show satisfactory compliance with the Act.

Appointments to the End of Life Review Committee

Applications for the End of Life Review Committee were invited in April and selection processes are now underway. The Review Committee is expected to be established around October this year.

The Registrar (assisted dying)

The Registrar (assisted dying) will be an employee of the Ministry of Health who is appointed by the Director-General of Health. 

The Registrar's role will be to:

  • check that the processes required by the Act have been complied with to ensure people who wish to receive assisted dying are eligible
  • notify the doctor if they are satisfied that the processes have been complied with before the administration of assisted dying medication.

The Registrar must also establish and maintain a register of:

  • approved forms held by the Registrar
  • reports from the End of Life Review Committee
  • the Registrar's reports to the responsible Minister.

The Registrar must also receive complaints and refer complaints under the Act to the appropriate authority, such as the Health and Disability Commissioner or the New Zealand Police.

The Registrar must report annually to the responsible Minister. The responsible Minister must then provide a copy of the report to the House of Representatives. Expressions of interest for this role will be invited later this year.

Applications for this role will be advertised.

The role of the Ministry

The Ministry of Health is responsible for the implementation of the End of Life Choice Act 2019 and will be responsible for overseeing the funding and provision of assisted dying services when they become available on 7 November 2021.  You can read more about this in the implementation section.

Ministry implementation governance group

The Ministry’s implementation programme is overseen by a governance group which has 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
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