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Royal College of Physicians goes neutral on assisted dying

22 Mar 2019 9:43 AM | Philip Patston (Administrator)
The results of the Royal College of Physicians survey are out - with the College announcing that they will adopt a neutral position on assisted dying.  

This means they will join the Royal College of Nursing in dropping their longstanding opposition to assisted dying. RCP President Andrew Goddard says "adopting a neutral position will mean that we can reflect the differing opinions among our membership. " 

The proportion of respondents who thought the RCP’s position should remain opposed dropped, while those who thought the RCP should be supportive increased by a significant amount. Similarly, fewer than half of doctors said they were personally opposed to assisted dying, while those who would be personally in favour increased. 

We welcome this significant step in the campaign, which demonstrates that our profession is willing to engage properly with the debate. Most importantly, our patients feel very strongly about having the choice of an assisted death, and this result shows our greater willingness to listen to them. Do share Dignity in Dying's press release with colleagues and friends. Palliative care specialists were the only section of the RCP membership to recommend an opposition stance by a majority. A group of five palliative care doctors has anonymously written an article for the BMJ to welcome the RCP survey and call for a “climate of open and fair discussion in our speciality where doctors do not fear being criticised, ostracised, or worst of all – having their careers threatened." 

An enormous thank you to everyone who completed the survey and encouraged colleagues to do so. Many new members have joined HPAD's ranks in 2019, increasing our membership to well over 2,000 healthcare professionals who support choice at the end of life for our patients. Today's result proves that we have strength in numbers - do please continue to encourage colleagues to join HPAD so that we can ensure all the Colleges adopt a stance that represents their members' views. The Royal College of GP's are next in line to survey their members (due later this year). The pressure is increasing on the BMA to revisit their opposition. 

Today's outcome is important for the medical profession and for our patients. It allows us to start engaging in a healthy and informative debate. Our patients are clear about their wish for the option of assisted dying. It is our duty to listen to them.  

Thanks again for your support,  

Dr Jacky Davis 
Chair of Healthcare Professionals for Assisted Dying (HPAD)

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