Having been granted a second reading (in line with convention) one month ago, the Falconer Bill will next face the far greater scrutiny of Committee stage, when this deeply flawed draft legislation (which has been criticised by both respected academics and lawyers, irrespective of views in principle) will be put under the spotlight. 18 July was most important, however, for the opportunity afforded opponents of the Bill to show their strength and their determination.
The example of other countries remains important, and fresh overviews of Oregon (here, here, here and here) and the Netherlands will be of use to you all in discussing these issues. In a promising development in Australia, assisted suicide advocate Dr Philip Nitschke, who tours the world advising on suicide techniques, has had his medical licence suspended in a clear sign that opinion is moving against those who presume to encourage suicide. Headlines from the UK also serve to remind us that context is all: what are the issues surrounding and prompting discussions regarding potentially changing the law?
- Age UK estimates that one in three older people in England and Wales - 900,000 people - who struggle with tasks as basic as washing and dressing get no care
- Half of hospices surveyed in England have had their NHS statutory funding either cut or frozen this year
- The NHS drugs watchdog in England has rejected a treatment that can extend the lives of some women with an advanced form of breast cancer because it is too expensive
- And two thirds of people over 50 are scared of developing dementia, while just one in 10 were frightened about getting cancer.
What you can do
There are always ways in which you can be more involved in fighting for good end of life care:
- The Government has established a review, chaired by the National Council for Palliative Care's Chief Executive, Claire Henry, to better understand 'the kinds of choices that people would like to be able to make at the end of life and information about the funding, systems and processes that would be needed to enable choices to be acted upon'. The review is accepting submissions to their consultation until 30 September, and it is also possible to submit evidence in person. More here
- NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) are seeking new members - healthcare professionals and lay people - to be part of the group that will develop a clinical guideline about caring for dying adults. Could you contribute to their work? (Deadline 29 August)
- Demand that better coverage be given to the positive opportunities available for those with serious or terminal illnesses. For example, do you consider that key institutions like the NHS give appropriate weight to the many alternatives when discussing assisted suicide and euthanasia? If not, let the relevant institution know
- Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, and engage in debate on all forms of social media
- And donate to our work, in the wake of one of the busiest periods since our foundation.