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Physicians don’t support assisted dying change

A majority of medics do not support a change in the law on assisted dying.

The Royal College of Physicians surveyed fellows and members with 58% saying they do not want a change in the law on assisted dying.

The results broadly reflected the overarching result of the RCP’s 2006 survey, although the number taking this position has fallen.

The survey asked medics whether they “believe that with improvements in palliative care, good clinical care can be provided within existing legislation, and that patients can die with dignity. A change in legislation is not needed.” 63% of respondents agreed with the statement.

The current legal position is that assisting another person’s suicide is illegal.

The college recognised that it is a difficult and personal issue for doctors and society, and therefore the RCP Council felt it was important to consult members.

Although there is still a majority opposing a change in the law on assisted dying, there has been an 11% decrease in the percentage of members and fellows holding this view since the survey was last conducted in 2006.

Another question asked that in the event of legislation receiving royal assent, would the doctor personally be prepared to participate actively in ‘assisted dying’? Only 21% would be in favour of this.

Dr Andrew Goddard, RCP registrar and senior officer with responsibility for professional matters, said: “These results give us a basis for our position on assisted dying and for responding to proposed legislation, now and in the coming years.

“Whilst there is still a majority against a change in the law, we recognise there has been a shift in opinion over the past eight years, and will continue to engage with members and fellows on this issue.”

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One Response to “Physicians don’t support assisted dying change”

  1. Malcolm Morrison says:

    As Professor Joad might have said: “It depends what you mean by ‘assisted dying'”!

    There is an old saying (attributed toArthur Clough): “Thou shalt not kill; but need not strive officiously to keep alive”.

    Whenever the lawyers get involved with the ‘detail’ of medicine, they ‘ghet it wrong’ and make it almost impossible to pratise! So “Keep the lawyers out of medicine”.

    There is a difference between ‘end of life care’ when ‘palliation’ may require drugs that will keep the patient ‘comfortable’ (and free of pain) but which may shorten life (by a few hours), and what some people want – which is for those woith chronic, incurable conditions to ‘choose when they want to die’; which involves a doctor actually ‘killing’ them.

    A rather interesting ‘survey’! A somewhat ‘loaded’ question! Also how many were asked; and how many replied? i.e. 63% of how many?

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