Choice, access and control at the end of life
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Choice, access and control at the end of life
News, views and debate about your rights at the end of life. We believe everyone has the right to a dignified death
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More than 200 British people have now travelled to Switzerland to end their lives

More than 200 British people have now travelled to Switzerland to end their lives | Choice, access and control at the end of life | Scoop.it

"Right-to-die debate rages on as figures reveal sharp rise in Britons travelling to Dignitas" - Telegraph
 

Figures from Dignitas released to Dignity in Dying show that a total of 217 British people have ended their life at Swiss clinic and just under 900 other Britons are now members of Dignitas. Dignity in Dying Chief Executive, Sarah Wootton was asked by the Telegraph to comment on the data:
 

"The Director of Public Prosecutions' guidance has been in place since 2010 and it may be that compassionate assisters feel that they are less likely to be prosecuted as a result of that and are perhaps more willing to accompany loved ones to go to Switzerland and that means that more people are prepared to go."

 

Read more and watch the video here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newsvideo/9631861/Right-to-die-debate-rages-on-as-figures-reveal-sharp-rise-in-Britons-travelling-to-Dignitas.html

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Tony Parsons: "The terminally ill should not have to travel to Switzerland"

Tony Parsons: "The terminally ill should not have to travel to Switzerland" | Choice, access and control at the end of life | Scoop.it

"I thank God for my mother’s life, and for the great blessing that she never had to see the inside of a care home."

Dignity in Dying's insight:

The novelist and journalist, Tony Parsons, recounts the death of his mother and contemplates the sorts of choices he would like at the end of his life:

 

"The terminally ill should not have to travel to Switzerland. They should be allowed to die peacefully in their own country, surrounded by their loved ones."


"There is no easy way to die. But we should all be allowed to do it with dignity."

 

Read the full article in the Mirror: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/tony-parsons-care-homes-dignitas-1738234

 

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Julian Barnes talks around assisted dying

Julian Barnes talks around assisted dying | Choice, access and control at the end of life | Scoop.it
Doctors should be free to help terminally ill patients to die without fear of prosecution, Julian Barnes has said.
Dignity in Dying's insight:

Booker Prize winner, Julian Barnes, spoke to the telegraph this weekend about his views on assisted dying. The author, whose wife Pat died from brain cancer four years ago, was critical of British laws that mean that terminally ill patients are forced to travel to Switzerland to end their life:

 

“Doctors should be free to help terminally ill patients to die without fear of prosecution”

 

You can access the article here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/booknews/9826590/Hay-Festival-Cartagena-Booker-Prize-Winner-Julian-Barnes-supports-euthanasia.html

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Baroness Jay on assisted dying: “I want to see a change in the law to give... greater protection and greater choice”

Baroness Jay on assisted dying: “I want to see a change in the law to give... greater protection and greater choice” | Choice, access and control at the end of life | Scoop.it
Is the US out of order expressing a view on the UK’s membership of the EU?
Dignity in Dying's insight:


Baroness Jay of Paddington spoke of her opinions on assisted dying in the Independents’ ‘Big Questions’ Q&A last week. She expressed her horror at the “legal muddle” which means British people are forced to travel abroad to end their life. She said:


“We need to have a clear legal position which enables terminally ill people to choose an assisted death which is medically supervised and safe.”


You can read the full article here:

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/last-weeks-big-questions-should-rich-old-people-use-their-bus-passes-how-do-we-get-more-women-in-the-boardroom-8457922.html

 

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Eric Avebury, Liberal Democrat Politician, discusses assisted dying.

Eric Avebury, Liberal Democrat Politician, discusses assisted dying. | Choice, access and control at the end of life | Scoop.it
Over the last 20 years I have had a few close shaves that made me think about death, including a quadruple bypass, a burst colon, lung cancer and an aortic aneurysm.
Dignity in Dying's insight:

“Terminally ill patients who are mentally competent ought surely to be able to get medical help to end their lives” Lord Avebury discussing assisted dying in a blog post on Liberal Democrat Voice, which you can access here:

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“…we cannot hope to understand how to have a good life, unless we also ready ourselves for a good death.”

“…we cannot hope to understand how to have a good life, unless we also ready ourselves for a good death.” | Choice, access and control at the end of life | Scoop.it
Will Self argues that we should accept people's right to take their own lives if they wish, rather than suffer painful terminal illness.
Dignity in Dying's insight:

“…we cannot hope to understand how to have a good life, unless we also ready ourselves for a good death.”

 

The novelist and journalist, Will Self, on BBC Radio 4’s ‘A Point of View’  on which he explores the choices available to terminally ill people as they near their death and makes a thought provoking case in favour of assisted dying.

 

You can listen online here http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/pov/all or read a transcript here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-20972525

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End of Life Rights pilot project to launch in east London - Newham Recorder

End of Life Rights pilot project to launch in east London - Newham Recorder | Choice, access and control at the end of life | Scoop.it
An 18-month pilot project to raise people’s awareness about their end of life choices will be launched in east London.
Dignity in Dying's insight:

 

"Research has shown that 82 per cent of people in the UK have strong feelings about how they would like to be treated at the end of life, but just 3 per cent have made their wishes known in advance."

 

Statistics like this has led to the development of a new project by our partner charity, Compassion in Dying, in partnership with Age UK East London and funded by the Big Lottery Fund. The End of Life Rights pilot project will begin in Newham this month and will support people to play an active role in decisions about their end-of-life.

 

Read the full story here:

 

http://www.newhamrecorder.co.uk/news/end_of_life_rights_pilot_project_to_launch_in_east_london_1_1779696

 

For more information about the project, visit the blog: http://endofliferightsadvocacy.wordpress.com/

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Heather Pratten - "I helped my son, Nigel, to die"

Heather Pratten - "I helped my son, Nigel, to die" | Choice, access and control at the end of life | Scoop.it
Heather Pratten helped her 42 year old son Nigel to die when he decided he could no longer live with Huntingdon's disease. Heather says she knew she was breaking the law but felt her son's wishes were more important.
Dignity in Dying's insight:

Dignity in Dying Patron, Heather Pratten, shares her story with Channel 4's 4thought programme. Heather talks candidly about how she felt she had to break the law in iorder to to help her son, Nigel, to die rather than live with the unbearable suffering caused by Huntington’s disease.



Heather said:

 

"He was my son. He was suffering terrible mental agony. It was what he wanted and I helped him”

 

See the full short film here: http://www.4thought.tv/themes/should-you-ever-change-your-religious-beliefs-to-keep-up-with-the-law/heather-pratten?autoplay=true

 

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Survey: 84% of Britons said doctors “should not lose their licenses if they help a patient die.”

Survey: 84% of Britons said doctors “should not lose their licenses if they help a patient die.” | Choice, access and control at the end of life | Scoop.it

The Daily Mail reports finding from a new survey that showed there is strong support for a change in the law across Europe, including in the UK where “71 per cent said they might seek assisted suicide”


Read the full article here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2240959/Majority-Brits-want-assisted-suicide-legalised-new-poll-reveals.html
 

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Terry Pratchett: Sex, death and nature

Terry Pratchett: Sex, death and nature | Choice, access and control at the end of life | Scoop.it

An interesting article by Laurie Penny in the New Statesman about Dignity in Dying Patron, Sir Terry Pratchett.
 

The writer Neil Gaiman, former collaborator and fried of Terry Pratchett, commented on Terry’s attitude to living with Alzheimer’s:

“I love the fact that Terry f**king embraced his Alzheimer’s,” Gaiman says. “I love that he took it and used it to raise the profile of the ‘dignity in dying’ campaign."

 Read the full article online http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/2012/11/terry-pratchett-sex-death-and-nature

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Terry Pratchett speaks out about living with Alzheimer’s and assisted dying

Terry Pratchett speaks out about living with Alzheimer’s and assisted dying | Choice, access and control at the end of life | Scoop.it

Terry Pratchett explores a range of issues with Fiona Phillips in this piece from The Mirror, incuding assisted dying:

“If someone is compos mentis and his plea to die is witnessed by two doctors, how can an assisted death like that be murder?”


So, does Terry have an end-of-life plan? “Yes, I plan to die... it’s all the rage,” he cheekily retorts.
 

“I have a living will and I have friends, and I have money and I have hope.

 

Read the full article here: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/terry-pratchett-speaks-to-fiona-phillips-1434665

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Research: Majority support assisted dying choice

Research: Majority support assisted dying choice | Choice, access and control at the end of life | Scoop.it

The BBC has picked up on Bangor Universities’ international research on assisted dying which looked at the views of over 62,000 people.

The message is clear:
 

"People wished to have control so they could choose the right time to die"

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The Right to Die – Personal Choice or Public Safety?

The Right to Die – Personal Choice or Public Safety? | Choice, access and control at the end of life | Scoop.it

Dignity in Dying Chief Executive, Sarah Wooton, and Dr Peter Saunders engage in as written debate on The Speakers' Corners Trust's forum for debate.
 

Sarah opens with the story of Dr Ann McPherson, a GP and renowned champion of patient rights who developed pancreatic cancer and sadly died last year. Sarah quotes her daughter, Tess who is also a doctor, to illustrate what it can be like at the end of life for a terminally ill person and why the choice of an assisted death is something many in that situation do want.
 

Tess said,
 

“Mum was diagnosed as having pancreatic cancer in 2007…For at least three years mum’s life with cancer was worth living…but [in May last year] mum had had enough... The cancer had spread to around the gastric outlet so that she could no longer eat anything solid and even fluids were difficult. Her chest drain had started to leak and was pouring out fluid that drenched her dressings. She had lost so much weight. She was getting pressure sores. She had had enough…
 

"...What followed were three weeks of living agony. She had become tolerant to morphine after taking it for two years. She needed her dressings changed at least twice a day.
"She felt ill in a way that only dying people can feel, and she knew that she would never feel any better. She resented life now. She no longer enjoyed seeing people, could no longer eat or walk, and could barely talk. But she did manage to express that she felt “bloody awful” and would rather be dead.”
 

You ahead the full debate here: http://www.speakerscornertrust.org/forum/forum-for-debate/

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"Where is the compassion in making me suffer?"

"Where is the compassion in making me suffer?" | Choice, access and control at the end of life | Scoop.it

A TEASPOONFUL of liquid morphine when the pain becomes unbearable and the occasional glass of water is all George Martin allows himself to consume.The 86-year-old stopped eating two weeks ago."

Dignity in Dying's insight:

George Martin is 86 and has been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Sadly for George, the choices he wants to make now, at the end of his life, are simply not available to him because of the current UK law. George spoke to his local paper about how he feels:

 

"I want to die," he said. "Every morning I wake up disappointed I haven't."

 

"I am of sound mind, I have loved my life, and feel very proud of many things, not least my family, but now I want to be allowed to die with dignity."

 

"Mr Martin wants someone to be able to help him die without getting into trouble. However, anyone who helped him would be breaking the law, as defined by an Act passed in 1961."


Read the full article online here: http://www.thisisnottingham.co.uk/man-right-die-day-wake-disappointed-haven-t-died/story-18323751-detail/story.html#ixzz2MfoK6g9b 

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Assisted suicide: GMC signals doctors safe to provide medical records to Dignitas patients - Telegraph

Assisted suicide: GMC signals doctors safe to provide medical records to Dignitas patients - Telegraph | Choice, access and control at the end of life | Scoop.it
Doctors will be able to provide medical records to patients who want them to travel abroad for an assisted suicide without being struck off, new guidelines make clear for the first time.
Dignity in Dying's insight:


Sarah Wootton, chief executive of Dignity in Dying, said:


“This guidance clarifies, for the first time that doctors are legally allowed to provide their patients with their medical records if they ask for them in order to be able to choose an assisted death abroad.”

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3 facts about assisted dying (or ‘it’s not all about Switzerland you know’)

3 facts about assisted dying (or ‘it’s not all about Switzerland you know’) | Choice, access and control at the end of life | Scoop.it
The debate around legalising assisted dying seems increasingly to centre on the case of suicide tourism; whether people should ‘have to’ travel to clinics in Switzerland where they can legally end their lives.
Dignity in Dying's insight:

Simon Beard writes an interesting piece on the Liberal Democrat Voice  suggesting that we should shift the assisted dying debate away from Switzerland.

 

"It’s easy to see why it has become so convenient to bring up the example of Dignitas so often when debating assisted dying. However, doing so obscures too many of the crucial issues. If we want to see a real change in the law we need to change the terms of the debate."


It's available here: http://www.libdemvoice.org/3-facts-about-assisted-dying-or-its-not-all-about-switzerland-you-know-32854.html

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Letters: Pathway to solace in death

Letters: Pathway to solace in death | Choice, access and control at the end of life | Scoop.it
The Liverpool Care Pathway for the care of the dying (LCP) has come in for ill-informed criticism (report, 9 January).
Dignity in Dying's insight:

 

Retired Cardiologist and Dignity in Dying Supporter, Dr Chris Ward, has written a letter to the Independent, in which he suggests that the Liverpool Care Pathway has ‘come in for ill-informed criticism’

 

“Those who criticise the LCP in hysterical, apocalyptic terms demonstrate a lack of understanding of the working of palliative-care teams in general, and specifically of the LCP.”

 

You can read the full letter here:

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/letters/letters-pathway-to-solace-in-death-8453029.html

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Quebec legal panel recommends allowing physician-assisted dying

Quebec legal panel recommends allowing physician-assisted dying | Choice, access and control at the end of life | Scoop.it
QUEBEC - The Quebec government says it believes it has found a way of not running afoul of Ottawa after a legal panel recommended that a terminally ill patient has the right to die.Provincial junior health minister Veronique Hivon said Tuesday the...
Dignity in Dying's insight:

Interesting news from Canada, a legal panel from Quebec has recommended that a terminally ill patient has the right to die. Head of the Quebec panel, lawyer Jean-Pierre Menard, said:

 

"We want to affirm a person's right to make a choice"

 

Dignity in Dying is campaigning for a similar change in UK law but supports the right of individuals globally to have what they consider to be a good death, including the choice of an assisted death for mentally competent, terminally ill adults.

 

Read the full article here: 

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Ageing population will mean a greater demand for good end-of-life care

Ageing population will mean a greater demand for good end-of-life care | Choice, access and control at the end of life | Scoop.it
Dignity in Dying's insight:

“The only certain prediction about how much specialist palliative care is needed in the future is that it will rise.” - The Association for Palliative Medicine


Recent articles published by the BBC and the Telegraph around palliative care indicated a short-fall in the amount of specialist end-of-life care in England, leading to unnecessary patient suffering in some cases.

 

A report published by the Association for Palliative Medicine of Great Britain and Ireland provides a more detailed insight into the issues surrounding palliative care as well as proposed guidance for the future.

 

It is estimated that about 335,000 people need end of like care each year across England. At Dignity in Dying we believe that alongside the choice of an assisted death (within upfront safeguards) dying people should be able to access good quality end-of-life care as a right. As numbers requiring specialist care continue to rise we need to ensure that the growing need for palliative care remains at the top of people’s minds.

 

You can download the full report here: 

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France Opens the Door to a Right to Die, but Not Now

France Opens the Door to a Right to Die, but Not Now | Choice, access and control at the end of life | Scoop.it
Laws on euthanasia and assisted suicide vary widely across Europe. With a new report out on Tuesday, France is set to become the latest state to consider allowing the terminally ill to decide when to end their lives.
Dignity in Dying's insight:

News from across that Channel that President Hollande's Government plans to bring a bill before the French parliament in June 2013. This article point out that assisted dying "is a topic on which public opinion appears to be ahead of legislators" and ends with the question, does the law elsewhere need changing? The answer, in the UK at least, is a resounding yes.

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Royal colleges should not interfere with assisted dying debate - Telegraph

Royal colleges should not interfere with assisted dying debate  - Telegraph | Choice, access and control at the end of life | Scoop.it

Dr Clare Gerada, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, has said the medical royal colleges should all adopt a neutral position on assisted dying - it is for Parliament to decide.

 

Dr Gerada said,

 

"My view should not be more or less valid merely because of who I am, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners. Similarly the RCGP’s ‘collective’ view should not trump the view of the man on the Clapham Omnibus."

 

Read the full Telegraph article, which includes comments from Dignity in Dying Chairman, Sir Graeme Catto, online here:

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9729282/Royal-colleges-should-not-interfere-with-assisted-dying-debate.html

 

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Parliament, not practitioners, should decide on any change in the law

Parliament, not practitioners, should decide on any change in the law | Choice, access and control at the end of life | Scoop.it

RCGP Chairman Clare Gerada has published an editorial, in a purely personal capacity, making the case that is for Parliament, not practitioners, who should decide any change in the law on assited dying.

She says, 

 

‘all Royal Colleges and Medical, Nursing, and other, umbrella medical organisations should… take a neutral stance on the issue of assisted dying and should not be publicly opposed to or support any change in legislation that may allow assisted dying for terminally ill, mentally competent adults.’

 

 The December edition of the Journal of the British Journal of General Practice can be viewed here (£) http://www.rcgp.org.uk/publications/bjgp/bjgp-current-issue.aspx

 

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Poll: 70% of Irish people support assisted dying

Poll: 70% of Irish people support assisted dying | Choice, access and control at the end of life | Scoop.it

 

Ireland's The Journal reports the Sunday Times/Behaviour & Attitudes poll, which showed that just under of 70 per cent of people are supportive of assisted dying.

 

Read the full story and take part in their poll here http://www.thejournal.ie/assisted-suicide-poll-679199-Nov2012/

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Jim's Story - why he advocates for assisted dying

Jim's Story - why he advocates for assisted dying | Choice, access and control at the end of life | Scoop.it

Following a narrow defeat at the Massachusetts ballot to allow assisted dying, Jim Carberry shares with ABC News his story and why he campaigned for a yes on "Question 2".

 

Jim relates the story of his wife, Margie, who had endured four surgeries and 44 doses of radiation for a rare spinal tumour before doctors said "there was nothing more they could do."
 

"By that point, she was just existing. She started seeing the palliative care team at Mass General, as well as a social worker and her minister. And she told them all on numerous occasions that after our youngest daughter's graduation, she wanted to die."


Margie made it to the graduation ceremony, a milestone she imagined when at the time of her diagnosis when her daughters were 2 and 5 years old. A week later, she decided to die by removing her feeding tube.


"She exercised the only option she had. It was horrendous watching her waste away, having my children watch her waste away. I decided that if there was anything I could do to help another family avoid this, I would do it."

 

Read the full article here: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/advocates-assisted-dying-deflated-massachusetts-defeat/story?id=17679697#.UKEW_ofG-cZ

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Assisted dying ballot in Massachusetts a narrow defeat

Assisted dying ballot in Massachusetts a narrow defeat | Choice, access and control at the end of life | Scoop.it

"With 93 percent of precincts reporting, a divisive ballot initiative that would allow terminally ill patients to end their lives with medication prescribed by physicians appeared early Wednesday to be narrowly going down to defeat."
 

The opposition campaign raised more than three times as much money as proponents - $2.6 million VS $700,000. The message is clear - campaigners trying to make an assisted dying law a reality must not be outgunned by their opponents big spending if they are to succeed.

 

Read more: http://www.boston.com/metrodesk/2012/11/07/assisted-suicide-measure-too-close-call/8Nzb3GxeZZ9KgKY9kJzvFJ/story.html

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"What does it say about Britain that we outsource our death"

"What does it say about Britain that we outsource our death" | Choice, access and control at the end of life | Scoop.it

"Assisted dying – a debate that doesn’t die" - A recent blog by Ranveer Bassey on the Pharmaceutical Journal. He writes,


"The circumstances in which someone chooses to end their life are always desperately sad. But they are made sadder still by the challenges the legal system presents. As a result there are deaths behind closed doors, or individuals have no alternative but to refuse food and water. Those who can travel to a Dignitas clinic in Switzerland face fears their loved ones might be prosecuted. And what does it say about Britain that we outsource our death?"

 

Read the full post here: http://www.pjonline.com/blog_entry/assisted_dying_%E2%80%93_a_debate_that_doesn%E2%80%99t_die

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