This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

Read the latest issue online

CAMHS won't see you now

RCGP members vote to maintain opposition to assisted dying

The RCGP will continue its opposition to a change in law on assisted dying following a consultation of its members, it has announced.

The college has been opposed to a change in law to allow assisted dying, but it ran a consultation of members last summer to gauge whether it should take a neutral stance.

The decision comes after a Pulse GP survey last year showed that more than two-thirds of GPs were supportive of a change in stance. However, 77% of the 1,700 RCGP members responding to its consultation said the college should maintain its opposition.

The latest debate was sparked by Lord Charles Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill, tabled last May, as well as an opinion piece from former RCGP chair Professor Clare Gerada in the British Journal of General Practice last year, in which she suggested GPs should ‘let society decide’.

The BMA continues to oppose legalising assisted dying and recently announced its opposition to a parliamentary bill on legalising assisted death introduced in Scotland.

The college said that the responses to the consultation had focused on: the detrimental effect it would have on the doctor-patient relationship; the risk to the most vulnerable groups in society; the possibility that patients may be in some way coerced into the decision to die; the shift of focus away from investing in palliative care; and would instigate a ‘slippery slope, whereby it would only be a matter of time before assisted dying was extended to those who could not consent due to reasons of incapacity and the severely disabled’.

RCGP chair Dr Maureen Baker said: ‘This was one of the most comprehensive consultations the college has ever undertaken and the quality of the responses on this extremely important issue has been very high. GPs will continue, as they have always done, to provide excellent care to patients in the final days and hours of their lives.’

In an interview with Pulse last autumn, Lord Falconer made a plea to the RCGP to take a neutral stance on the issue.

Readers' comments (15)

  • I am less opposed to assisted dying than unassisted dying: More than 100 elderly and disabled patients die every day in UK hospitals from not being assisted with eating and drinking (starvation and dehydration).

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Tom Caldwell

    At least the membership was given a chance to have a say in the position being taken. Those members with strong views towards changing college position have had a chance to vote as have those who agree with the current stance.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Until the NHS can be proved to be beyond bad practice (see North Staffs for details) then legalised killing of patients must not be allowed, or the practice will be abused and overused for convenience and cost saving.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Am growing increasingly weary of being controlled by the medical profession on its various levels and branches. GPs are our first port of call and the ones we rely on the most, if they see a way forward to change of law, then RCGP shld be quiet and support the wishes of terminally ill to manage their own departure.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Sorry Andrea, you think the medical profession are controlling you because they don't want to kill you?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

View results 10 results per page20 results per page

Have your say