Tuesday 17 January 2006
NEARLY THREE THOUSAND PATIENTS HELPED TO DIE EVERY YEAR BY DOCTORS WHO BREAK THE LAW
FIRST EVER SURVEY UK-WIDE STUDY SHOWS UP TO 200,000 PATIENTS MAY HAVE DEATH ACCELERATED BY DOCTORS WITHOUT SAFEGUARDS AGAINST ABUSE
Ground-breaking independent academic research to be published next week, conducted anonymously with doctors, shows that there were 2,865 patients deliberately helped to die by doctors in 2004. That is eight patients every day.
This includes voluntary euthanasia, where the doctor helped a patient to die at their request, and ending life without an explicit request from the patient”, which is also called non-voluntary euthanasia. The study is the first of its kind in the UK.
Anything up to 191, 811 patients had their deaths accelerated by doctors using pain relief (“alleviation of symptoms with possibly life shortening effect”). That is one in every three deaths (32.8%) in the UK.
Deborah Annetts, Chief Executive of Dignity in Dying, which replaces the Voluntary Euthanasia Society next Monday, said:
“This research proves that some doctors break the law and deliberately help patients die. This is all done in secret and denied in public. Some of these doctors are acting compassionately on their patients’ wishes, but some clearly act without consent. This cannot be safe.
“We desperately need to put the patient at the centre of these decisions and to make sure doctors are acting within proper safeguards to protect the patient and themselves.
“With eight cases of euthanasia by doctors every day and yet not a single prosecution the Government now has proof that the current law doesn’t protect people or give patients the choice they want.
“This research also shows that nearly a third of all deaths could be accelerated by the treatment doctors give. There are no statutory guidelines for doctors giving patients medication that hastens the end of their lives. It is certain in this huge number that many deaths down to doctors making decisions for patients.
“80 per cent of people think the Government should change the law – with a Bill in Parliament to do just that, it has just run out of excuses for not doing so.”
The research was conducted by independent academic researcher Professor Clive Seale from Brunel University and will be published in ‘Palliative Medicine’ next week.