Elderly patient

One hundred and thirty one patients have died in the first three months since New South Wales legalized its voluntary assisted dying (VAD) program, a report has revealed.

The report submitted by the NSW Voluntary Assisted Dying Board stated that between November 2023 and February 2024, 517 patients had applied for VAD. While 408 of them completed the first assessment, 131 completed the process, The Guardian reported.

In Australia, NSW was the last state to legalize euthanasia in May 2022.

VAD is accessible to persons suffering from a terminal illness who will die within six months or someone who is experiencing unbearable suffering due to a neurodegenerative condition and will die within 12 months.

The person requesting for euthanasia must be capable of making a voluntary decision, and they may opt for self-administered oral medication or be injected by a doctor. The application for VAD is assessed by two doctors.

According to the report, the majority of those who completed the first assessment were above 60 years, and 30% of them administered the dose themselves.

While 2.5% of the persons belonged to the Indigenous communities, 65% lived in regional NSW.

Jenni Millbank, the NSW Voluntary Assisted Dying Board chair, stated that all the patients whose requests get approval do not use it. However, it gives terminally ill patients a sense of power and choice.

"Knowing the substance is available to them gives these people the power of choice, and may provide a degree of relief and comfort in their final days and weeks," Millbank said.

It was the board's first report after legalizing euthanasia and covered the first three months. The majority of the applicants who passed the assessment were cancer patients, Magnet reported.

NSW's Health Minister Ryan Park said VAD gave them a chance to choose the timing of their death.

"Ensuring safe and equitable access for all eligible people underpins the approach to voluntary assisted dying in NSW," he said.