A Dignified Death

A letter in today’s Times. Other countries have debated and passed the necessary legislation but the UK still holds back.

The Vancouver Sun: BC takes lead in medically assisted dying with dedicated care … Today

Ontario creating service to help people access medically assisted 8 Days ago

States in the USA are debating assisted dying: After ‘intense debate,’ Hawaii lawmakers defer suicide bill (28th March 2017)

Assisted suicide and the right to private life: the enduring …

Sir, Throughout my professional life, I have concurred with the majority of physicians who, like Baroness Finlay, oppose a change in the law to enable euthanasia (letters, Apr 4, 5 and 7).

That view changed last month with the death of my school friend via physician-assisted suicide in Belgium. She had been ill with a rare tumour syndrome for many years, yet it was only last autumn that her condition was deemed palliative.

I had been of the view that most requests for assisted dying were due to a failure of good-quality palliative care. I was wrong — her palliative care was exemplary. However, in her last week she requested euthanasia.

On the one hand, I cannot put into words the stress of knowing my friend was dying at 1.30pm that Thursday. Equally I cannot put into words the relief that my friend was now at peace. I know that she was pleased to know my view had changed.

It is now clear to me that it is inevitable that UK law will change to enable a minority of people (at most 1 per cent of all deaths) to have a dignified death.

It is also true that the law must protect abuses.
Dr David Nicholl FRCP

(Consultant neurologist)

This entry was posted in A Personal View, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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