A pro-assisted suicide campaign group have been called out over a recent campaign video which has been branded ‘irresponsible’ and ‘misleading’ by the UK’s leading end-of-life care charity.
Hospice UK said the video was ‘sensationalist’ and ‘scaremongering’ and called for the video to be taken down.
But Dignity in Dying, formerly known as The Voluntary Euthanasia Society, refused to do so, insisting the film gives a “realistic portrayal” of some deaths in the UK.
DiD’s film heavily criticised
That claim has been strongly rebutted by Dr Andrew Green, a GP with 40 years’ experience who tweeted that he had never seen the situation described in the video.
Meanwhile, an NHS palliative care doctor said: “The very last thing the debate on assisted dying needs is deeply misleading and wildly inaccurate portrayals of dying in a hospice.”
A palliative care nurse also tweeted: “I have witnessed 100s of deaths. However, I have NEVER seen someone die like this.”
Gordon Macdonald, the head of Care Not Killing also said the video was ‘misleading’ and called for it to be removed.
In a letter to Sarah Wotton, Dignity in Dying’s CEO, the Chief Executive of Hospice UK, Tracey Bleakley and Carole Walkford, the Chief Clinical Officer described the video as “a misrepresentation that undermines a strong evidence base of expert care delivered by over 200 hospices, care that consistently brings symptom relief and comfort.” They added “we respectfully ask you to take down the film.”
Assisted suicide undermines palliative care
The video was released to coincide with a report by Dignity in Dying which claimed 17 people die everyday in pain, despite the best care. The report called for assisted suicide to be legalised.
When the report was released, CARE Scotland’s Director, Dr Stuart Weir, said it was unhelpfully trying to conflate assisted suicide and palliative care: "We believe this report muddies the waters by suggesting palliative care and assisted suicide are two sides of the same coin. The truth is that legalising assisted suicide goes right against the ethos of palliative care and in fact would undermine it."
The UK is widely considered as a world leader in palliative care and CARE has supported legislative attempts to ensure it is even more widely available across the UK.
Assisted suicide is currently legal in The Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Oregon, Canada and some other states. There is evidence in many jurisdictions where assisted suicide is legal of rising numbers being euthanised and key safeguards being removed.