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ss triple helix - summer 2000,  BMA Guidance Endangers Doctors

BMA Guidance Endangers Doctors

Doctors who act in accordance with the BMA guidance on Withholding and Withdrawing Life-prolonging Medical Treatment may be breaking the law according to the Scottish Deputy Minister for Community Care, Iain Gray. The BMA guidance, issued on 23 June 1999, condones the withdrawal of artificial nutrition or hydration from patients who have suffered a 'serious stroke or have severe dementia', providing a 'senior clinician' agrees. In a parliamentary debate on the Adults with Incapacity Bill, Mr Gray commented, 'To withdraw hydration and nutrition from a non-PVS patient with the purpose of hastening death would leave a medical practitioner open to criminal prosecution. Let us be clear about that.'[1] Despite this, the BMA, at its annual representative meeting on 27 June, has rejected a motion calling on the BMA Council 'to reconsider those parts of the guidance document... which are incompatible with Scottish Law'. The BMA, rather than reviewing its recommendations, seemingly prefers to have the courts decide whether doctors, in any particular instance, have gone too far. The General Medical Council has not yet given its opinion on the guidance.

  1. Scottish Parliament Justice and Home Affairs Committee, 1 March 2000
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