Dignity in Dying welcomes the Charter for End of Life Care (written jointly by the Royal College of General Practitioners and the Royal College of Nursing) which addresses the issue of promoting and supporting patient choice at the end of life to ensure that independence, dignity and sense of personal control can be maintained.
Commenting on the Charter Davina Hehir, Head of Legal Strategy and Policy said:
“Both Dignity in Dying and its charity partner Compassion in Dying support the principles contained in this charter and call for them to be properly embedded in practice through training, promotion and research.
“One of the key principles in the Charter concerns the recording of a patient’s end-of-life decisions. There are already tools in place (Advance Decisions and Lasting Power of Attorney) which allow an individual to document, in writing or with a named person, their medical treatment preferences should they lose mental capacity at the end of life. However, neither is widely used by the general public and there is no formal system for recording Advance Decisions in medical records or in an electronic system. This means that when the information is needed it is often not available and patient’s wishes may not be acted upon. The charter provides an opportunity to develop such a system and empower patients further.
“There have been recent developments to train both doctors and nurses in having end-of-life conversations which needs to continue. Similarly, spending on palliative and end-of-life care should be sufficient to support the Charter.
“Whilst assisted dying for terminally ill adults with mental capacity is not mentioned in the Charter, Dignity in Dying believes that it should be an option available for these adults who want to control the timing and manner of their death. A safeguarded system would allow for up-front and honest conversations between GPs and patients and sits well with the principles of the Charter”
Notes to editor:
About Dignity in Dying:
- Dignity in Dying campaigns for greater choice, control and access to services at the end of life. It advocates providing terminally ill adults with the option of an assisted death, within strict legal safeguards, and for universal access to high quality end-of-life care.
- Dignity in Dying has over 25,000 supporters and receives its funding entirely from donations from the public.
- The British Social Attitudes Survey 2010 found that 92% of non-religious and 71% of religious people support assisted dying. This relates to overall support of 82%.
About Compassion in Dying:
- Compassion in Dying is a national charity (no. 1120203) that aims to support people at the end of life to have what they consider to be a good death by providing information and support around their rights and choices.
- We are a leading provider of free Advance Decisions in the UK and we also conduct and review research around patient rights and choices in end-of-life care.
- Compassion in Dying was set up in 2007 by the campaigning organisation Dignity in Dying to take on the charitable aspects of its activities. The two organisations now work in partnership.
- While Compassion in Dying aims to increase people’s understanding of and empowerment around existing end-of-life rights through information, research and education, Dignity in Dying campaigns to extend and defend individuals’ rights at the end of life.
For more information on Compassion in Dying visit www.compassionindying.org.uk