Dr Brian Iddon MP, recently appointed chairman of the Care NOT Killing Alliance, today invited 650 hospices, palliative care units and hospice organisations throughout the UK to join the Alliance.
The current focal point of Care NOT Killing's work is its campaign against the Joffe Bill on physician assisted suicide. Lord Joffe's Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill, which will receive its second reading in the House of Lords on 12 May, seeks to make it legal for doctors to help their patients kill themselves.
Care NOT Killing, which launched on 31 January this year, is a new UK-based alliance bringing together human rights groups, healthcare groups, palliative care groups, faith groups and concerned individuals.
It has three key aims:
Dr Iddon said he fully expected many of the 650 units in the UK to join Care NOT Killing in order to campaign more effectively against the Joffe Bill:
"One of the tests of a civilized society is to observe how it treats its most vulnerable citizens. The terminally ill, whether they are cared for in a hospice or elsewhere, are amongst the most vulnerable people there are."
"To legalise assisted suicide would put immense pressures on such people to ease the burden on their carers by seeking assisted suicide. That simply cannot be right.
"The alternative to assisted suicide, of course, is for society as a whole to provide the best treatment and pain relief for people at their time of greatest need. For those with incurable diseases and with but a short time to live, more palliative care has to be provided within the NHS - not just by the charitable hospice movement. We need to get rid of the current postcode lottery of palliative care. All of us have to be prepared to pay for that."
Care NOT Killing seeks to attract the broadest support among health care professionals, allied health services and others who are opposed to euthanasia. It is campaigning on the basis of powerful arguments underpinned by the latest, well-researched and credible evidence and has produced a new DVD explaining its position which has also been sent to the 650 hospices.
Key groups that have already signed up to join Care NOT Killing include The Association for Palliative Medicine, the British Council of Disabled People, RADAR, the Christian Medical Fellowship, the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales, the Church of England and the Medical Ethics Alliance. So far 30 separate organisations have joined the alliance.