Less than 20 per cent of all UK doctors are prepared to help patients die, a survey of medical professionals has found.
According to a poll of 600 doctors, carried out by the Medix consultancy, 60 per cent of doctors are strongly opposed to proposals that would allow physicians to assist in suicide. When the question was last posed in 2004, Medix found that only 43 per cent were against a change.
According to the Huffington Post, this signifies a 17 percentage point increase in the number of doctors who do not want Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill to become an Act of Parliament.
Currently the Bill, that is being considered by Parliament, makes allowances for doctors to offer the chance of assisted dying to terminally ill patients deemed mentally capable and within six months of likely death.
Only 19 per cent of doctors surveyed were willing to help people die through euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide — although 37 per cent of those polled believed such things were happening under the radar.
Speaking to the Huffington Post, Dr Tony Calland, chairman of the British Medical Association’s ethics committee, said, ‘There have always been strongly held views on assisted dying, as this is a complex, emotive issue centred upon vulnerable patients nearing the end of their lives.
‘Doctors have repeatedly expressed their opposition to assisted dying, when it has been debated regularly at the BMA’s annual conference that sets our policy, which since 2006 has been to oppose assisted dying in all its forms’.
Dr Calland added that a doctor’s duty should involve ‘caring for dying patients’ and ‘building the very best of palliative care’, rather than deliberately ending a patient’s life.