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Evening clouds
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Sunday, 27 February 2011

Challenge of end of life care and choices over death

The Telegraph reports comments regarding Dignitas and the view of Pauline Smith (End of life care lead West Midlands NHS Strategic Health Authority) that it is unfair that only those who can afford to go to Switzerland can do so leaving the less well off to die in the NHS. Pauline claims people are helped to die in the UK - but does not back up the claim in the article with evidence.
I can see her philosophical point about inequality of access to Dignitas. I think however it is a minor quibble compared to her neglect of the need to examine the possibility that people may be unlawfully killed. I hope she will bring out the evidence for her claim, yet I doubt there is much to support her view.  The law has it right at present; what needs challenging is the belief that somehow the law needs such drastic change.
I would expect the priority for all to be working to improve the care of those who are currently dying as Sir Mike Richards says. If we go for the same improvement in the level care for the dying as we've made in cancer care (albeit with more to do) we'll make life, and death much better for all in the UK. The Telegraph article is at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/8343851/NHS-chiefs-back-calls-to-reform-assisted-suicide-law.html?goback=%2Egde_97078_member_44912772

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