Monday, 22 March 2010

The opinion polls on Assisted Suicide

Dr Calum MacKellar, Director of Research at the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics has written a letter to The Herald, explaining the danger that leading opinion polls can have in swaying public opinion in Scotland in favour of the assisted suicide bill proposed by Margo MacDonald. According to Dr. MacKellar, the results of the polls are contradictory and do not consitute a basis for ammendment of legislation. Follow this link to read the full letter.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

The Royal Dutch Medical Association against Assisted Suicide Amendment

The Royal Dutch Medical Association has expressed its reservation over the proposed amendement to current legislation on assisted suicide in The Netherlands. A campaign group claims to have collected enough signatures to force the proposal to be discussed in parliament. The proposal consists of "training non-doctors to administer a lethal potion to people over the age of 70 who "consider their lives complete" and want to die. The assistants would need to be certified and make sure that patients were not acting on a whim or due to a temporary depression, but from a heartfelt and enduring desire to die".
Currently, two medical doctors need to certify that a patient is suffering unbearably and has no hope of recovery before a lethal injection can be applied. The Royal Medical Association feels that the proposed amendment would reduce the direct involvement of medical doctors on the decision-making processes and has therefore expressed its reservations.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Statistics on Assisted Suicide

Simon Rogers from the Guardian has published statistics on the number of people that have carried out assisted suicide in a notable clinic in Switzerland. According to the data, since 1998, more UK citizens have used the clinic than Swiss nationals. Overall,German nationals are the most frequent users of the clinic. It would be interesting to reseearch the reasons behind this heavy use and whether they are tied in to provision of palliative care facilities.

According to the EAPC Task Force on the Development of Palliative Care in Europe, in 2006,
There is no national data about the palliative care workforce in Germany. It is estimated, however, that each palliative care unit has at least one full-time physician who is trained in palliative care. Inpatient hospices usually have no in-house doctor but work together with local GPs, of whom an increasing number have participated in a palliative care training course