The issue of euthanasia, or assisted dying, is incredibly controversial and there are legitimate concerns on either side of the debate. Today I will propose a motion to the British Medical Association's annual conference in Liverpool, which states:
This meeting supports the introduction of legislation to allow people who are terminally ill but 'mentally competent', the choice of an assisted death. Further, the law should not criminalise people who accompany those who make rational decisions to end their suffering
The motion will seek to take the issue forward in a compassionate and fair way that I believe will serve the interests of the terminally ill and our society.
The starting point has to be in the law, which at present is failing, as shown by the recurrence of cases in the courts that often place relatives, already dealing with the painful loss of a loved-one, in the middle of distressing legal battles. There is clearly a desire – whether we like it or not – among a number of patients at the end of often terrible battles with debilitating, incurable diseases to end their suffering with the support of their relatives. To deny this right is to prolong the suffering for individuals and families, something that I can simply not condone.
I do accept though that this is not like any other clinical decision – and that if society is to offer this solemn choice it must also build in safeguards to its laws that not only rectify the inadequacies of the current situation, but also protect the vulnerable, the weak and all those – doctors and nurses included – who are involved in this incredibly difficult situation.
As a start we must enact legislation to decriminalise acts of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. Some of the reasons that are compelling enough for us to change our laws are:
Prevention of cruelty and protection of human rights
To allow a terminally ill individual to end their life is the only humane, rational and compassionate choice. The current prohibitions require a person with great physical and/or mental suffering to continue to endure their suffering against their wishes, which cannot be right. The right to life and the right to private and family life under the European convention on human rights should be interpreted broadly to include decisions about quality of life, including decisions about death if the life is no longer one of quality.
The terminally ill are travelling abroad to countries where the right to end of life in terminal cases is recognised and is lawful. We cannot regulate the laws of foreign lands. We must make provisions within our laws to regulate this issue within our boundaries under our control and supervision. We must not prosecute loved ones for "encouraging or assisting" suicide who enable or assist a terminally ill individual to travel abroad to end his or her life lawfully.
Ambiguity in the application of the current law
The current law conflicts with the law as it is being enforced. If the laws as written were being enforced, over a hundred people would have been prosecuted for accompanying their loved ones abroad to help them end their lives. This ambiguity and uncertainty leaves all concerned, including physicians, unprotected.
Discriminatory effect of the laws
The ability of the wealthy to travel to countries where it is lawful for the terminally ill to end their lives has the discriminatory impact of treating the haves and have-nots unequally.
Many people are opposed to legislation that would allow "end of life" choices. But our concerns relating to abuses and protection of the vulnerable can be addressed by ensuring that certain objective safeguard conditions are met prior to allowing a terminally ill individual from exercising his or her right to die with dignity. Some of the safeguards include the following:
• The patient must be terminally ill.
• The patient must be an adult.
• The patient must be mentally competent.
• The patient must be in severe pain.
• Two independent physicians must be satisfied that the above conditions are present.
In conclusion, the only humane choice is to allow individuals who are suffering to choose to end their suffering. Further, the discrepancies in the laws as they exist and how they are being enforced have led to uncertainty. This uncertainty leaves the doctors, their patients and patient's loved ones unprotected. If we do not address these issues openly and head-on, we will have continued uncertainty and unregulated practice of euthanasia or assisted suicide with the fear of prosecution hanging over the heads of all concerned.
The goals of the medical profession should continue to remain one of saving lives but this should not be at the expense of compassion and a terminally ill individual's right to choose to end his or her life and die with dignity.
• Dr Kailash Chand is a GP in Greater Manchester
Essay about The National Health Services
2193 Words9 Pages
The National health services (NHS) provides a comprehensive healthcare services across the entire nation. It is considered to be UK’s proudest institution, and is envied by many other countries because of its free of cost health delivery to its population. Nevertheless, it is often seen as a ‘political football’ as it affects all of us in some way and hence everyone carry an opinion about it (Cass, 2006). Factors such as government policies, funding, number of service users, taxation etc all make up small parts of this large complex organisation. Therefore, any imbalances within one sector can pose a substantial risk on the overall NHS (Wheeler & Grice, 2000). This essay will discuss whether the NHS aim of reducing the nations need…show more content…
However, a healthy lifestyle was seen to prevail among the rich population (Webster, 2002; Geoffrey, 2011). Later, findings from a series of reports including report from Royal commission on National Health Insurance in 1926; The Sankey Commission on Voluntary Hospitals in 1937; and reports from British Medical Association (BMA) in 1930 and 1938, all collectively indicated that inadequacy existed in the pattern of the services (Christopher, 2004; Webster, 2002). Evident were reports of conflicting care and duplication of work between the municipal and voluntary hospitals (Wheeler & Grice, 2000). Additionally, world war had a huge impact on the health services and the conditions in which hospitals, theatres, radiology and pathology department operated was very poor. Thus, no machinery existed that supported running of a coordinated healthcare system, hence a need for unified, simplified and cohesive system was felt (Smith, 2007). Furthermore, Royal Commission’s report suggested that funding for the health services might benefit from general taxation rather than its basis on insurance principle (Christopher, 2004). However, it was not until the Beveridge report in 1942, which provided a huge drive and momentum for a movement of change in the health services. And within subsequent years seen were the proposals for NHS drawn through the White Paper in 1944, then in 1946 the National Health Service Act and at last in 1948 the establishment of the NHS