Specialists talk about the dangers of legalising assisted suicide
Dr Jeff Stephenson, Consultant in Palliative Medicine: "My fear at the moment is that this country is going down, or risks going down the route of assisted dying with its eyes closed”.
Professor John Wyatt, Professor in Neonatal Pediatrics: “What is happening today is that Lord Joffe's bill is suggesting to toss away, almost in a casual way, two thousand years of a tradition that doctors would only be dedicated to healing.”
Dr Mark Cheesman, Consultant Geriatrician: “I have no hesitation in saying that it [assisted dying] would introduce a lot of difficulties.”
Dr Kathryn Myers, Consultant in Palliative Medicine: “There will be patients who are vulnerable and at risk who need protection from the law; from undue pressure being brought upon them.”
Baroness Ilora Finlay, Professor in Palliative Medicine: “What is proposed is not whether you personally can commit suicide… it is whether your doctor can act to kill you.”
Par. 110 ...The BMA's view however was that legalising 'assisted suicide would affect some patient's ability to trust doctors and to trust medical advice'. And Dr Wilks also spoke of the importance, in the wake of recent adverse publicity for the medical profession, of maintaining the public`s trust in its doctors. 'I have a concern,' he said 'that re-defining the role of the doctor in the way that this Bill would do might pose some threat to that trust.' The majority of the letters that we have received from doctors express serious reservations about the impact of the Bill on both their relationship with their patients and the ethics of their profession. It is important to consider nurse/patient relationships, which the RCN felt could be jeopardised by the Bill (Written evidence, Paragraph 4.2).
Par. 111 ...Dr Randall felt it would be better, 'if society wants assisted suicide, to take doctors out of it... You would not have this problem of elderly vulnerable people worrying about what would happen to them when they were in care'.
Par. 112 On the other hand, Dr Nathanson commented; 'What doctors find it impossible to consider is who would want to provide that service. They find it almost impossible to conceive who would want to spend their lives administering lethal injections. Whether such a service could ever be set up, and who would be the people who took part in it, raises very serious questions.' Dr Wilks cautioned that, 'the establishment of a separate service is a kind of signal that there is a different group of patients who do not deserve the same kind of overall assessment and communication and discussion about options, and they can go off to the euthanasia service instead'.
Par. 116 We were also given the results of a survey carried out by the Association of Palliative (APM). We were told that in the APM survey of its members, which attracted 84% response rate, 72% percent of respondents had said that they would not be prepared to participate in a process of patient assessment which formed part of an application for assisted suicide or voluntary euthanasia.