Assisted Dying: the right to good care
Assisted dying is legally available in Aotearoa New Zealand now that the End of Life Choice Act 2019 has passed into law.
The introduction of assisted dying means that a person with a terminal illness who meets strict eligibility criteria can request medication to relieve their suffering and end their life.
Assisted dying is a sensitive topic that people can feel strongly about. However, it is important to know people are protected by the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights and have the right to an appropriate standard of care. They can complain to the Health and Disability Commissioner (HDC) if they feel their rights have not been upheld.
The End of Life Choice Act sets out how care should be provided to people choosing to receive the service, while the Code upholds people’s rights when accessing that care.
But the assisted dying law changes people’s rights in some important areas
These include how information about assisted dying should be provided and people’s ability to make decisions about their care. These changes are about protecting people who may be vulnerable, while still ensuring they can make a considered decision, free from pressure from other people.
HDC has prepared guidance about the Act and the Code for people choosing to receive assisted dying, as well as for health practitioners about their responsibilities to those in their care, whether or not they opt to provide the service. You can download these resources by clicking on the links on the right-hand side of this page.
How to raise a concern about the assisted dying service
Anyone may make a complaint or raise a concern – the person choosing to receive the service, or their whānau, family, friends or caregivers. There are several ways to address your complaint:
- Contact the health practitioner(s) concerned or their employer: Depending on the nature and seriousness of the issue, this is often the fastest way to resolve a complaint. You can expect your complaint to be dealt with promptly and to get an explanation of any actions taken.
- Contact a health and disability advocate: they can support you to make a complaint. The service is free and confidential. Telephone 0800 555 050 or email firstname.lastname@example.org . Hours: 8.00 am – 8.00 pm Monday to Friday.
- Contact the Health and Disability Commissioner: We will consider your complaint carefully, the issues you raise and the information available. You can contact HDC at 0800 11 22 33 or by emailing: email@example.com.
- Contact the Registrar (assisted dying) at the Ministry of Health. The registrar is responsible for checking that health practitioners are complying with processes required by the Act and ensuring people who wish to receive assisted dying are eligible. They will also receive and refer complaints about assisted dying services to the appropriate authority, such as the Health and Disability Commissioner. Email: AssistedDying@health.govt.nz or phone 0800 223 852.
The Ministry of Health is responsible for overseeing the assisted dying service. More information can be found on the Ministry’s website.
You can read the Act in full on the New Zealand Legislation website.
You can also contact the Registrar, Assisted Dying or the Assisted Dying Secretariat at the Ministry of Health to ask questions, get information, or raise concerns by emailing AssistedDying@health.govt.nzor by calling 0800 223 852.
If you need support
Assisted dying is a sensitive topic and may be difficult for some people. If reading this information has raised some distressing feelings for you, please know there is support available. You can call or text 1737 for free to speak to a trained counsellor at any time. More contact details for helplines are available in the Where to find help and support section of our website.