Doctors in the British Medical Association (BMA) do not want to give patients life-ending drugs, a survey has revealed.
Of the nearly 29,000 respondents, 40 per cent said the BMA should support assisted suicide, while 33 per cent thought it should be opposed. However, only 36 per cent said that they would be willing to prescribe the drugs themselves.
Although half of respondents personally supported a change in the law, the majority of those involved in palliative care or geriatric medicine were opposed to a change in the law.
The results may mean the doctors’ union could drop its historic opposition to assisted suicide.
The BMA said that while the survey itself will not determine its policy, the findings would be discussed at its annual meeting next year. Until then, it remains officially opposed to all forms of assisted suicide.
Dr Gordon Macdonald of Care Not Killing, said: “The current laws on assisted suicide and euthanasia exist to protect those who are sick, elderly, depressed or disabled from feeling obliged to end their lives.
“They protect those who have no voice against exploitation and coercion and those who care for them who might come under pressure to conserve scarce resources. They do not need changing.”
The survey was conducted in February 2020 by Kantar, an independent research organisation, on behalf of the BMA.
It found 54 per cent of those surveyed would not be willing to be involved in euthanasia, should it be legalised.
However, one in four (26 per cent) were willing to actively participate. One in five were undecided.
In February, the Royal College of General Practitioners maintained its opposition to legalising assisted suicide following a survey of its members.
The independent survey of 6,674 members – 13 per cent of those consulted – found that 47 per cent said the College should oppose a change in the law on assisted suicide.