Assisted Dying (No. 2) Bill
The National Council for Palliative Care (NCPC) set out its most recent position on assisted suicide in a joint statement on the Assisted Dying (No. 2) Bill that was defeated in the House of Commons in September 2015.
To read the statement we produced with the Association for Palliative Medicine and the National Palliative Care Nurse Consultants Group click here.
Independent of the issue of assisted suicide, we believe that the provision of high quality end of life care must be a high priority for the Government. We know that many people don’t currently get the information that they need about options for end of life care. We also know from successive reports into the care of dying people that despite some excellent examples of end of life care, too many still do not receive the care and support that is right for them and meets their needs. Addressing this must be high on the agenda, regardless of the profile at any particular time of the assisted suicide debate. If the law on assisted suicide does ever change it is essential that it does not divert attention or resources away from improving people’s access to palliative and end of life care.
A Select Committee of the House of Lords reported on this issue in 2004. It did not reach a conclusion on the principle of whether assisted dying or euthanasia should become legal, but identified a number of issues which would need to be addressed in any future legislation.
NCPC published a detailed response to the Select Committee report. We welcomed the balanced nature of the report, and particularly the way it identified the significant issues and gaps in the evidence that need to be addressed before a decision whether or not to legalise assisted dying or voluntary euthanasia could safely be made. In view of the magnitude of what is involved, we believe that unless and until those issues can be resolved, it would not be right to change the law. You can read the single-page executive summary of NCPC's response from the resources.
NCPC established a collaborative of interested organisations to fund research into some of these issues. That research was conducted by Professor Clive Seale of Queen Mary, London. We published a briefing on some of the key findings from this research which can be accessed here.
Prosecuting cases of assisted suicide
In 2010 the Director of Public Prosecutions published guidelines on the factors that should be taken into account when considering prosecuting somebody suspected of assisting another to commit suicide. Our response to the consultation leading up to the publication of those guidelines can be found here
The draft guidelines which we responded to can be found in the resources.
The final guidelines published after consultation can be found here
Members of the House of Commons debated the Director of Public Prosecutions’ (DPP) Guidance on cases of Encouraging or Assisting Suicide on 27 March 2012. You can view the briefing we provided to inform parliamentarians here and the full debate here.
Joint Statement on Assisted Dying (No.2) Bill 2015-16
The National Council for Palliative Care, the Association for Palliative Medicine and the National Palliative Care Nurse Consultants Group released a joint statement on the Assisted Dying (No. 2) Bill that was defeated in the House of Commons in September 2015..
You can read more here.