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Dr Howard Martin’s admission of hastening his patient’s deaths highlights the need for greater transparency in end-of-life decision making

On Friday, Dr Howard Martin was struck off
by the General Medical Council for admitting that he had deliberately hastened
the deaths of dying patients in his care. He stated that he had acted out of ‘Christian compassion’. Commenting on
the case the Chief Executive of Dignity in Dying, Sarah Wootton, said:

“The case of Dr Howard Martin, a retired
GP, who has admitted to hastening the deaths of his terminally ill patients, shows
yet again the need for greater transparency in end-of-life decision making. If dying
people are suffering unbearably at the end of life they should be able to choose
to die with dignity, subject to safeguards. But, it should be their choice and their
choice alone.

“There is clearly a problem. Britons are
travelling abroad to die, and domestically some patients, family members and
doctors are taking matters into their own hands. Alongside improved access to
good quality end-of-life care, we need to better regulate end-of-life decision
making. Neither complete prohibition nor legalised euthanasia is the answer,
but rather assisted dying for terminally ill, mentally competent adults. This
safeguarded choice is provided in both Oregon and Washington states in the US,
and has been shown to protect people from abuse whilst ensuring that people
don’t have to suffer against their wishes at the end of life.”


Notes to editor:

About Dignity in

· 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

· Surveys consistently show that
at least 80% of the UK population supports a change in the law on assisted


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