Dementia sufferers in Holland are being killed by doctors under the country’s controversial euthanasia laws, but the practice remains controversial amongst medics.
Last year 21 patients with early stage dementia, including Alzheimer’s, were killed by lethal injection.
In Britain Baroness Warnock has previously called for dementia patients to be allowed to die saying that they are “wasting people’s lives”.
Phyllis Bowman of Right to Life, a British pro-life group, expressed concern at the new Dutch figures saying: “I think the figures are frightening and we have every reason to be afraid.
“That people are putting themselves forward for death so early suggests that there has been quite a bit of pressure put on them.”
None of the cases are believed to have involved an illegal act, and each of the patients was thought to be capable of giving their consent.
The figures, which are due to be released formally later this year, were leaked by Dutch television channel NOS last weekend.
The leaked figures also reveal another year-on-year rise in euthanasia cases with 2,700 deaths last year, compared to 2,636 in the previous year.
While 95 per cent of Holland’s population support the country’s euthanasia laws, just one third of doctors agree with administering lethal injections to dementia patients.
Euthanasia is legal in the Netherlands under certain conditions. To be eligible patients must convince two doctors that they are making an informed choice in the face of ‘unbearable suffering’.
In Britain in 2008 Baroness Warnock said that elderly people suffering from dementia are “wasting people’s lives” and “wasting the resources of the National Health Service” and should be allowed to die.
Lady Warnock’s comments, which were published in an interview with the magazine of the Church of Scotland, Life and Work, have been condemned by dementia charities.
She told the magazine: “If you’re demented, you’re wasting people’s lives – your family’s lives – and you’re wasting the resources of the National Health Service.”