Assisted dying professional leads working group (FOI)
Assisted dying professional leads working group (FOI)Produced by the Freedom of Information office
Authored by Government of Jersey and published on 12 January 2023.
Prepared internally, no external costs.
I note in the assisted dying consultation document that you state a "Professional Leads working group" was established to "ensure that, in the event that the States Assembly adopt legislation permitting assisted dying:
- that a safe, high quality, patient-centred assisted dying service can be provided to Jersey residents in accordance with the provisions of the law
- that the necessary protections and standards are in place for medical and care "
I would like to know who the names of the people in this group.
The criteria for the group selection.
And see the minutes of each of their meetings.
I want to understand what involvement each member had in the drafting of the proposal.
In the terms of reference for the working group it states that they must "give consideration to, and provide advice to Ministers about matters including:
- legal definitions (inc: conscientious objection, terminal illness, unbearable suffering) and eligibility criteria
- safeguards, including pre-approval process, consent management, advance directives
- medical ethics"
I would like to see the evidence from their meeting minutes that this has happened.
I would also like clarification of the statement "The Working Group will escalate proposed recommendations as required to the HCS Executive Leadership Team for final determination”, as the members of the working group are the Executive Leadership team. I am concerned that this means that there has been no proper process for scrutiny of the working group's performance.
The assisted dying consultation refers to "Expertise in other jurisdictions". I would like a full list of the names of the people and organisations that were consulted during the preparation of this document and to understand who in the working group spoke directly to these people and organisations.
Only names from postholders of Tier 1 and Tier 2 roles are published in Freedom of Information responses. Those holding Tier 1 or 2 positions within the group are:
- Chief Nurse – Rose Naylor
- Group Medical Director – Patrick Armstrong
Members were selected on the basis that they are the on-Island professional leads in relevant areas of health and social care practice (eg., the Island’s Chief Pharmacist on the basis that any assisted dying service would require input from pharmacy professionals). The roles of group members of the professional leads working group are listed in the Terms of Reference. The two policy officers, who are members of the group, are those leading the development of assisted dying proposals on behalf of the Minister.
Assisted Dying working group TOR.pdf (gov.je)
Agendas and minutes of the meetings have not been published as they are policy under development and are exempt under Article 35 of the Freedom of Information (Jersey) Law 2011.
To date the group has met on ten occasions, on the following dates, following an initial set-up meeting on 22 February 2022:
- 3 March
- 21 March
- 25 April
- 17 May
- 25 May
- 22 June
- 27 July
- 11 August
- 5 October
- 21 November
On each occasion, the two policy officers presented elements of draft proposals to the group who then collectively considered and advised on the draft proposals. The group’s feedback was incorporated into the proposals which were considered by the Minister prior to publication as part of the public consultation.
Please see the response to C above. The content of the proposals, as currently published for public consultation, clearly indicate that consideration has been given to all the matters set out above.
As stated, a number of members of the working group are members of the Executive Leadership Team. The Terms of Reference set out that: “[escalations to HCS Executive Leadership Team] may not be required in all circumstances where the members of the working group have the necessary authority to determine recommendations without onwards referral”. To date, the Working Group has not escalated any matters to the HCS Executive Leadership Team.
The Terms of Reference set out that the remit of the group is to:
- Consider and advise on an outline service delivery model for an assisted dying service in Jersey
- Give consideration to matters related to the development of an assisted dying service including the formulation of associated recommendations
- Give consideration to, and provide advice to Ministers about matters including: legal definitions and eligibility criteria; safeguards; regulation and medical ethics
- Have oversight of liaison with relevant professional registration bodies and other relevant agencies
For full details please see page two within the following link:
Assisted Dying working group TOR.pdf (gov.je)
The professional leads group is an advisory body, which is advising on draft proposals which have been approved by the Minister for publication as a consultation document for scrutiny by the public. The group is not a decision-making group. Post consultation, it is the responsibility of the Minister for Health and Social Services to determine proposals to be presented to the Assembly for scrutiny by Assembly members and the Health and Social Security Scrutiny Panel.
The professionals with expertise in other jurisdictions are listed by job title in the consultation document:
- The Netherlands – former Chairman of the Dutch Euthanasia Review Committee
- Canada – Palliative care consultant and assisted dying practitioner, former President, Canadian Medical Association
- Australia – Consultant anaesthetist and assisted dying practitioner
The policy officers of the working group spoke directly with these people, in addition to undertaking extensive desk research.
Article 35 - Formulation and development of policies
Information is qualified exempt information if it relates to the formulation or development of any proposed policy by a public authority.
Public interest test
Article 35 is a qualified exemption, which means that a public interest test has to be undertaken to examine the circumstances of the case and decide whether, on balance, the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.
Although there is a need for transparency, accountability, financial and good decision making by public authorities this information relates to an ongoing situation. The SPA, and indeed good government, requires Ministers to be provided with full, frank advice from officials about the possible impact of proposed policy, and for Ministers and officials to be able to discuss and test those proposed policies in a comprehensive way.
The following considerations were taken into account:
Public interest considerations favouring disclosure:
- disclosure of the information would support transparency and promote accountability to the general public, providing confirmation that the necessary discussions have taken place
- disclosure to the public fulfils an educative role about the early stages in policy development and illustrates how the department engages with parties for this purpose
Public interest considerations favouring withholding the information:
- in order to best develop policy, Officers and Ministers need a safe space in which free and frank discussion can take place. The need for this safe space is considered at its greatest during the live stages of a policy. Sharing views is important to ensure that all relevant considerations are taken into account in developing and implementing policy. Disclosure at a time when these views are still being considered would negatively impact the Department's ability to fully consider the information
- the need for this safe space is considered at its greatest during the live stages of a policy
- release of the information at this stage might generate misinformed debate in areas where future options have yet to be finalised. This would affect the ability of officials to consider and develop policy away from external pressures, and to advise Ministers appropriately
- disclosure of this information may limit the willingness of parties to provide their honest views and feedback in future. This would hamper and harm the policy–making process not only in relation to this subject area but in respect of future policy development across wider Departmental business.
Taking into account the various factors, the SPA decided in favour of withholding the redacted information.