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Nurses back legal suicide campaign


Medical professionals are about to launch a campaign to allow people the legal right to end their life through assisted suicide.

Nurses and other healthcare professionals belonging to group called Healthcare Professionals for Change are confronting the opposing views of established industry groups such as the British Medical Association and the Royal College of Physicians.

The HPC is the first professional organisation to be established for the purpose of changing the Suicide Act 1961.

Group founder Ann McPherson, a doctor who has terminal pancreatic cancer, said many doctors believe patients “should not have to suffer against their wishes at the end of life”.

She added: “By taking a hostile approach to a change in the law on assisted dying, medical bodies such as the BMA and the Royal College of Physicians are failing to adequately reflect the views of all their members.

“Alongside access to good-quality end-of-life care we believe that terminally ill, mentally competent patients should be able to choose an assisted death, subject to safeguards.”

Sarah Wootton, chief executive of Dignity In Dying, which backs HPC, said: “It’s a real move forward. It’s important for doctors to be able to challenge the views of the BMA and other medical bodies. They need to be able to represent a wider viewpoint.”

The Royal College of Nursing moved from opposing assisted suicide to a neutral position last summer, and the HPC aims to encourage other Royal Colleges and the BMA to follow suit.

Vivienne Nathanson, the BMA’s head of sciences and ethics, said: “Assisted dying is illegal in the UK so doctors are not permitted to help terminally ill competent adults to die.”

It was a “complex and emotive issue”, she said but a motion to support assisted suicide has never been passed by BMA members at their annual meetings.


Readers' comments (6)

  • It's all about death with dignity. How wonderful to be able to leave this planet knowing that all the loose ends are tied, affairs in order, good-byes said and very little left undone. I would welcome that and so would my family.

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  • Got to agree with the last post .. "Last post" now there's an appropriate and sad phrase ....

    But yeah dignity , choice and grace matter and the greatest worry for some is dying inside an elongated suffering which is personally intolerable .. "Personally" is an inner experience which must be validated far more and "choice" can do that ....

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  • About time the nettle was grasped.

    In this country we already have complicated laws on many issues, so why can't politicians allow society the opportunity to make such an important decision?

    I do not advocate a general right to commit suicide, however it has been my belief that we need to legalise what is one of the most important decisions that an individual may have to make.

    Why not press the government to hols a referendum on this crucial decision?

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  • "Hold" - Think hols was a bit of a freudian slip.

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  • As a Registered nurse living in the United States I so agree that governments of all countries need to get with the times and realize people have the right to decide how they die and not be expected to sit back and suffer endless pain a loss of their quality of life and not be able to decide when they have had enough and know when its time to let go.It should be our decision and our doctors should be allowed to provide the necessary prescription for a medication that will end our suffering.

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  • "End-of-life decisions

    Exit members vote to broaden assisted suicide services"

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