Medics: ‘Assisted suicide would undermine palliative care’

Legalising assisted suicide in the UK would damage effective palliative care, medics have warned.

In a letter to The Times, cancer specialist Professor Chris Parker warned that patients already have a “real and distressing fear that their life would be ended against their wishes by their healthcare providers”.

Separately, Dr David Randall revealed that such fears have hindered his attempts to “institute humane and effective end-of-life care”, while consultant psychiatrist emeritus Andrzej Wilski said legalising assisted suicide would “inevitably plant in people’s minds the idea that it is virtuous to want to rid the world of one’s old, sick and bothersome self”.


In an editorial, the Scottish Daily Mail highlighted that “in countries where the ‘right to die’ is permitted, euthanasia has effectively become normalised.

naive to deny that ‘assisted dying’ laws could be exploited

“It is also perhaps naive to deny that assisted dying laws could be exploited by unscrupulous relatives seeking to protect their inheritance, or a bureaucratic health service buckling under the cost of providing palliative care to an ageing population”.

Journalist Ian Birrell, whose daughter has learning disabilities and a life-threatening condition, highlighted cases in The Netherlands of those with autism or learning disabilities being euthanised.

Writing for The Daily Mail, he said: “I have witnessed the amazing, compassionate support of hospice and palliative care teams during intensely stressful times. We should strengthen, not undermine, a branch of medicine pioneered in Britain to deliver the best end-of-life care and unrivalled levels of support for families.”


In December, an MP and campaigner for assisted suicide claimed that support for assisted suicide is growing among his parliamentary colleagues and those in favour are “getting towards a majority”.

Former Home Office Minister Kit Malthouse, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on choice at the end of life, said he was “working the tea rooms” in trying to boost support for a change in the law, and claimed “the sentiment in parliament has moved significantly since 2015”.

In 2015, MPs voted by 330 to 118 to protect vulnerable people by maintaining current end-of-life safeguards.

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Also see:


Church leaders: ‘RoI must not undermine sanctity of life by legalising assisted suicide’

Psychiatrist: ‘Canada must stop the runaway train of euthanasia expansion’

Majority of UK doctors would not facilitate assisted suicide

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