Irish Medical Council slammed for ditching ‘don’t kill patients’ guidance

Hundreds of doctors have raised concerns over the Irish Medical Council’s (IMC) removal of end-of-life protections for patients in its new guidance for medics.

According to the Irish Daily Mail, 300 doctors signed a letter to the Council after it removed the statement: “You must not take part in the deliberate killing of a patient” from its 9th edition of the Guide to Professional Conduct & Ethics for Registered Medical Practitioners.

The guidance, which came into effect at the start of the year, also removed the warning that doctors must not take part in “human reproductive cloning” or engage “in the creation of new forms of human life solely for experimental purposes”.


Professor Desmond O’Neill of Tallaght University Hospital said people were “stunned” when the prohibition against killing patients was dropped, adding: “There’s a very good reason for that clause to be there in the ethics guide. It certainly undermines trust in them as a centre of competence in ethical reasoning.”

Addressing the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Assisted Dying, IMC President Dr Suzanne Crow said the council “does not have a position” on assisted suicide and euthanasia and the paragraph’s removal “should not be interpreted in this way”.

Instead, she claimed it was removed because “deliberate killing” is prohibited by law and the guidance is “principles-based” rather than a “legal code”.

But Senator Rónán Mullen said: “A medic who breaks the law of the land is of interest not just to the law of the land but also his or her medical standing. The council is setting basic standards for good conduct among doctors. It has always been the case that the council does not take part in the deliberate killing of the patient.”

‘Right to live’

Last month, a disability group urged the Oireachtas to prioritise the “right to live” over the “right to die”.

Peter Kearns of the Independent Living Movement Ireland told the Joint Committee on Assisted Dying that many disabled people had huge concerns about the possible introduction of assisted suicide.

Campaigners for so-called ‘assisted dying’ want to enable terminally ill adults to get help to end their lives. The Committee is due to make recommendations on the issue by March.

Also see:


‘Dr Death’ peddles assisted suicide in Dublin

‘Doctors most in favour of assisted suicide least involved in care of dying’

Labour MP: ‘It’s not left-wing to support assisted suicide’

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