Depts of Health and Justice should work together to ensure top notch legislation
Fine Gael Dublin Mid West Deputy, Derek Keating, has today (Friday) said that the drafting of living wills, as proposed by his colleague Dr. Liam Twomey TD, should not mean a windfall for the legal profession as this would not be in the spirit of the proposal.
Deputy Keating went on to say that both of the Departments involved in developing this legislation, Health and Justice, should work closely together to ensure that the best possible legislation is drafted.
“The spirit of this proposal is that people can clearly set out how they see their end of life care, while they are in a position to communicate their wishes. It is not intended that this should have a heavy cost implication or that lawyers need to be involved to give effect to a person’s statement.
“Advanced Health Directives require that details are put in writing in a binding way. In the same way as last will and testaments can be changed as a person’s priorities change, so too can a living will be changed to take account of a person’s changed position. This does not need to be a complicated legal process which will benefit lawyers and solicitors. Simply writing out express intentions in the presence of a witness(ess) should suffice.
“We need to have proper debate around this issue to ensure that the interests of those who are interest in making living wills are safeguarded. We need to ensure that people make informed decision that they are not acting emotionally and the appropriate checks and balances are in place.
“Having spoken to some people in the hospice sector, the general practice at present is that an Advanced Health Directive is generally respected by doctors and families because a proxy, advocate or next of kin for the patient, has heard an oral view or has had a conversation with the patient in relation to their wishes. This legislation, if progressed, will give legal standing to living wills allowing people to plan for their end of life care.
“I very much welcome this Bill and encourage both departments involved to work together to ensure that the legislation is water tight and that the best possible legislation is drafted in the interest of putting the power back in the patient’s hand.”