First five months of VAD in SA
In the first 22 weeks of voluntary assisted dying in South Australia, from January 31 to June 30, 44 people with a VAD Permit died, 38 of them by using the VAD substance. Six people who were assessed as eligible for VAD, and who had received a VAD Permit, died without using the VAD substance.
In delivering the second report of the VAD Review Board, Review Board Presiding Office Ass Prof Mel Turner said
We continue to hear through feedback provided to the Board, about the role voluntary assisted dying plays in alleviating suffering for individuals and the peace of mind it can offer to the bereaved. The Board offers heartfelt condolences to all those grieving for their loved ones.
The second report of the VAD Review Board provides details for the nine week period from May 1 to June 30.
The first two reports together show that the major underlying illness of people assessed as eligible for VAD in South Australia is cancer, which has been consistently 60% of deaths. In the first quarter, five people (40%) had a neurodegenerative disease, the same number as in May-June, but with the higher number of weekly VAD deaths in May-June, this decreased from 40% to 15% of deaths.
The majority of people self administered the VAD substance – 66% in February to April and 60% in May-June.
More men than women used VAD (57% men) and over the five months, an increasing proportion of people are using VAD in a public hospital. In the first three months to the end of April, 75% of people were dying at home; in May-June it was down to 40%. Each public hospital has a VAD Liaison Officer who can facilitate the VAD request, assessment and administration process once a patient initiates the discussion.
In the first 13 weeks of VAD in South Australia, 28 VAD Permits were issued. In the following nine weeks to June 30, 40 VAD Permits were issued. This is an average increase from 2.2 Permits per week in the first 13 weeks to 4.4 VAD Permits per week in the following nine weeks.