Leading doctors who endorse assisted dying for the terminally ill will this week launch an unprecedented campaign to change the law on the right to die.
Healthcare Professionals for Change, a group of doctors, nurses and allied health professionals, says it wants to challenge bodies such as the British Medical Association, which opposes any change in the law that would allow others to help terminally ill people to die.
The group is the first professional body of its kind to be set up with the explicit aim of changing the 1961 Suicide Act, which forbids such assistance.
The group will be chaired by Dr Ann McPherson, a GP and fellow of the Royal College of General Practitioners and of Green College, Oxford, who is dying of pancreatic cancer. “By taking a hostile approach to a change in the law on assisted dying, medical bodies such as the BMA and the Royal College of Physicians are failing to adequately reflect the views of all their members,” she said. “Many of us believe dying patients should not have to suffer against their wishes at the end of life. Alongside access to good quality end-of-life care, we believe that terminally ill, mentally competent patients should be able to choose an assisted death, subject to safeguards.”