Majority of UK doctors would not facilitate assisted suicide

Most UK doctors would not euthanise or assist in the suicide of their patients if the law’s existing end-of-life protections were removed, a survey by has found.

Of the 1,088 doctors asked if they would “provide information or have a discussion with a patient” about euthanasia or assisted suicide, 58 per cent agreed, with 31 per cent declining. But the majority would not administer lethal drugs to a patient (59 per cent), or help them to take it themselves (53 per cent).

The most cited reasons for not wanting to introduce euthanasia or assisted suicide were to “protect vulnerable people from risk of coercion” and because the “focus should be on improving palliative care”.


Around 48 per cent of respondents opposed the removal of end-of-life protections. Of palliative care doctors who took a position, this rose to 80 per cent. Less than 45 per cent of all those surveyed indicated they were in favour.

And nearly half (47 per cent) agreed legalisation would negatively impact the medical profession, in contrast to just over a quarter (26 per cent) claiming the opposite.

According to, one medic responded: “It is not necessary. The vast majority of deaths are comfortable and pain free.”

Palliative care

Earlier this year, a former specialist palliative medicine consultant said it is a “myth” that euthanasia can be safely legalised for only those deemed to be terminally ill.

Writing to the Church Times, Dr Claud Regnard of St Oswald’s Hospice countered a joint article written by former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey and Rabbi Jonathan Romain, Chair of pro-assisted suicide group Dignity in Dying.

Dr Regnard said “it is sad to find two prominent faith leaders ignoring the facts” that all areas which have changed the law have “relaxed or removed” euthanasia safeguards, while even “new jurisdictions are challenging ‘safeguards’ as discriminatory barriers”

The House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee is due to report on its inquiry into the issue in the new year. In the coming months, Holyrood is set to consider Liam McArthur MSP’s Assisted Dying (Scotland) Bill.

Also see:

Canadian mother with stage four cancer pushed to consider euthanasia

Former medic dubbed ‘Dr Death’ wants no restrictions for assisted suicide in Ireland

Isle of Man approves principle of euthanasia

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