UK medical establishment 'out of step' with views of many doctors, patients and public on assisted dying - DiD

Posted On: 
9th February 2018

Responding to a series of articles on assisted dying (see links below) published in The British Medical Journal today, Thursday 8th February 2018, Sarah Wootton, Chief Executive at Dignity in Dying, said:

“This week The British Medical Journal, a highly-respected publication read by thousands of medics in the UK and across the world, is rightly grasping the nettle on the important issue of assisted dying. This series of articles reveals just how out of step the medical establishment is with the views of many doctors, their patients and the general public. 

“Contrary to the official positions of several medical organisations, including The British Medical Association, there is a wide range of views within the profession. Indeed, a Doctors.net poll reported in The BMJ this week reveals that 55% of doctors agree that assisted dying, in defined circumstances, should be legalised in the UK. Tomorrow (Friday) The Royal Society of Medicine is holding a sold-out conference on choice at the end of life, where doctors will hear from speakers on all sides of this issue sharing their professional and personal views. The appetite for open and frank debate is clearly growing.

“We know from experience overseas, particularly in US states like Oregon and California, that giving terminally ill people the choice of assisted dying benefits doctors and their patients alike. Recently the Australian state of Victoria voted to legalise assisted dying and New Zealand is set to debate it this year. Given the growing international evidence supporting assisted dying laws and the differing views of doctors in the UK, we welcome The BMJ’s calls for The BMA to poll its members and move to a neutral position on assisted dying to better reflect the diversity of opinion. We believe that change is inevitable, and that the debate must move on from a question of ‘should assisted dying be legalised in the UK’, to ‘when’ and ‘how’.”

Personal view: Most UK doctors support assisted dying, a new poll shows: the BMA’s opposition does not represent members

Commentary: Palliative care and assisted dying are not mutually exclusive

Feature: Assisted dying in US and Canada: controversy subsides after legalisation

Essay: How it feels to help a terminally ill patient to die a dignified death

Patient Commentary: “I don’t want to go to Switzerland, and I don’t want to attempt suicide”

Head to head: Should doctor assisted dying be legal?