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Health professionals say they will refuse to help kill their patients if assisted suicide is legalised in the UK

Published: 20th October 2021

Nearly 1,700 doctors and nurses have voiced their strong opposition to the legalisation of assisted suicide in a letter to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. They say they will refuse to help kill their patients even if the law is changed. Their intervention comes ahead of this Friday's (22 October) second reading of a Private Members' bill in the House of Lords that would allow doctors to provide lethal drugs to terminally ill people wanting to end their lives.

In the letter to Sajid Javid MP, they say:"As healthcare professionals, we have a legal duty of care for the safety and wellbeing of our patients. We write with great concern regarding the introduction of a Bill to legalise assisted suicide."
The letter explains: "The shift from preserving life to taking life is enormous and should not be minimised. The prohibition of killing is present in almost all civilised societies due to the immeasurable worth of every human life."
It goes on to say: "It is impossible for any government to draft assisted suicide laws which include legal protection from future extension and expansion of those laws. Canada has clearly demonstrated that safeguards can be eroded in a matter of just five years. The prohibition of killing is the safeguard. The current law is the protection for the vulnerable. Any change would threaten society's ability to safeguard vulnerable patients from abuse, it would undermine the trust the public places in physicians, and it would send a clear message to our frail, elderly and disabled patients about the value that society places on them as people."
Dr Gillian Wright, who works for the healthcare group Our Duty of Care (ODOC) which organised the letter, commented: "The 1,700 health care professionals who have signed this letter urgeā€¦all Parliamentarians to reject this legislation and instead concentrate on ensuring that regardless of where you live or what you earn, you can access the very best palliative care."
Dr Mark Pickering, CEO of the Christian Medical Fellowship, and a prison GP in London, welcomed the letter. "Health professionals of all faiths and none share a common concern for the welfare and safety of our patients, especially the most vulnerable. CMF welcomes this letter to the Secretary of State because it clearly shows the breadth of concern about this Bill and the determination of so many health professionals not to be complicit in ending the lives of vulnerable people."
The letter's signatories include: Prof Johann de Bono, Regius Professor of Cancer Research and Experimental Cancer Medicine, London; Dr Carol Davis, Consultant in Palliative Medicine, Southampton; Prof David Galloway, former President of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow; Prof Rob George, Professor of Palliative Medicine, London; Dr James Haslam, Consultant in Intensive Care, Salisbury; Prof Julian Hughes, (Retired) Consultant in Old Age Psychiatry, Bristol; Prof Chris Parker, Professor of Oncology, London; Prof Alan Thomas, Professor of Old Age Psychiatry, Newcastle.

For further information:

Steven Fouch (CMF Head of Communications) 020 7234 9668

Media Enquiries:

Alistair Thompson on 07970 162 225

About CMF:

Christian Medical Fellowship (CMF) was founded in 1949 and is an interdenominational organisation with over 5,000 doctors, 900medical and nursing students and 300 nurses and midwives as members in all branches of medicine, nursing and midwifery. A registered charity, it is linked to over 100 similar bodies in other countries throughout the world.

CMF exists to unite Christian healthcare professionals to pursue the highest ethical standards in Christian and professional life and to increase faith in Christ and acceptance of his ethical teaching.

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