Banned doctor leads dementia sufferers to assisted suicide

A doctor who has been struck off in the UK has helped six dementia sufferers to end their lives at Swiss suicide clinics.

Dr Colin Brewer wrote reports for the patients stating that they were mentally capable of choosing to die.

Five of the deaths took place at the Dignitas facility in Zurich, with one using a separate clinic in Basel. All six patients died within three months of seeing Dr Brewer.

‘Hugely dangerous’

Dr Brewer is an associated co-director for the pro-assisted suicide group, My Death My Decision.

He told the Mail on Sunday: “You don’t have to be a doctor to assess mental capacity. It’s helpful but it’s not essential.”

Alistair Thompson, a spokesman for campaign group Care Not Killing, criticised Brewer’s work.

He said: “It’s a hugely dangerous trend to start allowing people with diminished mental capacity to end their lives.”


It’s a hugely dangerous trend to start allowing people with diminished mental capacity to end their lives.
Alistair Thompson, Care Not Killing

Professor Baroness Finlay, a Crossbench peer and professor of palliative care, said that dementia sufferers risked cutting their lives short when the disease might not get any worse.

Brewer was banned in 2006 for prescribing drugs to a patient who later died.

In 2015, a Daily Mail investigation discovered that Dr Brewer had been recommended by Dignitas as someone with an ‘open mind’ to assist with suicide.

Brewer was recorded telling an undercover journalist he could help and that the reporter, who said she was 35 years old and had mental health problems, was not too young to seek assistance.


In the Netherlands, a judge allowed an 80-year-old woman to be euthanised in 2015 despite objections from the medical staff looking after her.

According to media reports, the woman was living in a dementia care home and doctors thought she was incapable of expressing her will to die.

But the woman’s family claimed she had a ‘death wish’ and obtained a court order when the care home refused to let her be euthanised.

Medical staff treating her fought against the decision, but a judge rejected the appeal and the court order remained.


Assisted suicide remains illegal in the UK.

Under the law in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, a person who intentionally encourages or assists the suicide or attempted suicide of another person, commits an offence which carries a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.

A Bill to legalise assisted suicide was soundly defeated in the House of Commons in 2015.

Following a lengthy debate, MPs voted 330 to 118 against Rob Marris’ Private Members’ Bill.

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