Netherlands

Euthanasia centre has two year wait to assess mental health complaints

Photo: DutchNews.nl

People who have such serious psychiatric disorders that they want to die typically have to wait for two years for assessment by a centre specialising in complex euthanasia requests.

Trouw reports that the Expertisecentrum Euthanasie – formerly called the end-of-life clinic in The Hague – has so many requests that its seven psychiatrists typically take 24 months to assess them.

The waiting time has reportedly doubled since last year, and psychiatrist Paulan Stärcke told Trouw that it was a sign that these people were being neglected by the normal Dutch GGZ psychiatric care system.

‘Our waiting list is above all a sign that serious consideration is still not often given to a request for euthanasia in the normal GGZ system,’ she reportedly said. ‘Referrals are made to us too often.’

Last year, Trouw reports, 60 of the 66 euthanasia procedures given for psychiatric reasons were carried out through the Expertisecentrum Euthanasia, which was set up to deal with complex requests that a GP cannot or will not handle.

She reportedly said that treating psychiatrists should be more prepared to deal with this kind of request, however complex. The centre also offers consultancy services and so far this year has offered this service 78 times for patients with mental issues, leading to six euthanasia procedures, Trouw reported.

Dutch euthanasia law has six strict conditions, including that a patient is experiencing long-term, ‘unbearable suffering’ with no prospect of relief. Although about nine in ten requests granted last year were for terminal conditions such as cancer, the law does not exclude mental health complaints and these represented 1% of cases.

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