‘Current laws against assisted suicide protect us from rogue medics’

Britain’s laws preventing assisted suicide help to save people from “rogue healthcare professionals” who kill their vulnerable patients, a leading medical ethics expert has told The Christian Institute.

Dr Peter Saunders was responding to the case of German nurse Niels Hoegel, who has been charged with killing 97 people while working at two hospitals between 1999 and 2005.

Dr Saunders said that British laws “guard against this kind of abuse of power”.

Resuscitation attempts

Hoegel is reported to have used drugs to dramatically lower patients’ heart rates because he enjoyed ‘the feeling of being able to resuscitate them’.

He is already serving a life sentence in prison for killing two intensive care patients.

A date for his trial has not yet been set.

‘Vulnerable patients’

Dr Saunders, CEO of the Christian Medical Fellowship, told The Christian Institute that the UK needs to be on guard against attempts to weaken the law here.

“This case, reminiscent of the UK’s Dr Shipman, chillingly highlights how easy it is for rogue healthcare professionals to kill patients without being suspected or detected”, said Dr Saunders.

He added: “Were our present laws against euthanasia and assisted suicide to be slackened it would make it even easier.

“It is precisely to guard against this kind of abuse of power that we need strong laws and regulations to protect vulnerable patients and hold professionals to account.”

Dozens euthanised

In Belgium, a former nurse has been accused of killing at least ten people, including his mother, after admitting he had “actively euthanised dozens of people”.

Ivo Poppe claimed to have acted “out of compassion, to spare the physical and mental suffering” of people nearing the end of their lives.

Poppe made the admission to his psychiatrist but has since retracted it and denied all of his charges.

His trial in Bruges is set to last two weeks.

Still illegal

Belgium legalised euthanasia in 2002, and since then the practice has been extended to children.

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.

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