Late last evening the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) decided to suspend the medical licence of Philip Nitschke over his involvement in the suicide death of Western Australian man, Nigel Brayley.
From the Medical Board's statement:
Medical Board confirms suspension
The Medical Board of Australia is focused on public safety and managing risk to patients.
The South Australian Board of the Medical Board of Australia has suspended the registration of Dr Philip Nitschke.
The Board made the decision after considering a submission from Dr Nitschke, as part of the process of taking ‘immediate action’. Section 156 of the National Law enables the Board to limit a practitioner's registration in some way to keep the public safe, while other investigations or processes continue.
The situation regardling the death of Nigel Brayley was the focus of an ABC 7:30 Report wherein it became clear that Nitschke had direct contact with Mr Brayley. This revelation had suicide prevention groups such as Beyond Blue and The Balck Dog Institute up in arms claiming that, as a doctor, Nitschke had a duty to counsel the man away from his suicidal intention.
Subsequently it was revealed that Beyond Blue and the Australian Medical Association (WA Branch) made formal complaints to the medical board, It is not known whether The Black Dog Institute did likewise.
These complaints added to an existing list of unresolved complaints dating back over two years. One such complaint from this author concerning the sales, marketting and import of nitrogen cylinders marketted dangerously as providing an 'undetectable death'.
AHPRA has not explained anything fo the process to resolve all or any of these complaints at this time. Certainly we understand that the suspension relates to the Brayley and the percieved need to try to stop those kind of events from occurring.
However, as the ABC News report, today explains, Nitschke is defiant:
Dr Nitschke, who described the suspension as a "politically motivated deregistration", told AM it was "clearly stupid" to claim he is a risk to public safety.
"That's about the most ludicrous thing they've said, that ... telling me I'm no longer a practising doctor is going to somehow or other change things," he said.
"I mean, we've still got workshops, we've got heavily booked workshops all over Australia now. People will be coming in their hundreds - I would estimate thousands now - wanting to know how they can end their lives should they get to that point.
"Whether they remove my medical licence or not is not likely to change that one bit, and the idea there'll be more people somehow or other being influenced to end their lives I think is quite stupid."
Strangely, and most likely, simply facing the pending reality, Nitschke changed the wording on his Peaceful Pill Handbook website sometime in the last few days to read: 'former medical doctor'. He also advised ont he same site that the so-called 'Peacfeul Pill Forums' are 'are currently suspended due to infiltration by media. Existing & new Members will be permitted entry on a case-by-case basis. Photo ID may be required.'
HOPE has repeated its earlier calls for a national inquiry into the workings of Exit International and Mr Nitschke.
If you are troubled by suicidal thoughts or need help in any way, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636