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Guernsey to legalise assisted dying?

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GUERNSEY could become the first place in the British Isles to introduce a law which would allow terminally ill people to end their life, if a proposal is passed by politicians in May.

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The island is due to debate a move led by Policy and Resources president Gavin St Pier, which if approved could pave the way to introduce assisted dying.

However, the British Medical Association has said it is opposed to assisted dying and the island’s local branch has warned it could lead to problems recruiting and retaining doctors in Guernsey.

‘The British Medical Association represents doctors with a range of views on the issue, but since 2006 the consensus of the organisation nationally has been to oppose assisted dying in all its forms, and support the current legal framework which allows for compassionate and ethical care for the dying to enable people to die with dignity,’ the local branch said.

The branch added: ‘Should Guernsey support assisted dying this could have an impact on recruitment and retention of doctors to the island. Doctors need to be registered with the General Medical Council in the UK in order to practice medicine. The GMC offer excellent guidance for doctors on assisted suicide requests from patients and makes it clear it is a criminal offence for anyone to encourage or assist a person to commit suicide. As doctors need to remain GMC members to work in Guernsey a unilateral change in legislation in Guernsey would make it difficult to understand how these two conflicts could be reconciled.’

Jersey Hospice, meanwhile, said it did not support assisted dying being part of palliative care.

‘We acknowledge that assisted dying is the subject of debate in many quarters, in neighbouring Guernsey and far beyond, and we believe it is important to talk about the right to die well,’ it said in a statement.

‘The focus of Jersey Hospice Care now and tomorrow shall always be about the living and living well, right up until the end. The European Association of Palliative Care has declared that the provision of euthanasia and assisted dying should not be included in the practice of palliative care – a position that has remained unchanged for 50 years. This is a position that we support.’

Krysta Eaves

By Krysta Eaves
author

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