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Feature Readers Respond

What readers thought about The BMJ’s articles on assisted dying

BMJ 2018; 361 doi: (Published 09 April 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;361:k1558

Re: What readers thought about The BMJ’s articles on assisted dying

Dear Editor,

I was active in the BMA for several years and knew Sir Sandy for about 40 years since the time when we were both members of the Council of the Society of Medical Officers of Health and Sir Tony Grabham even longer from Medical School. Enough introduction.

Most of my contemporaries are now deceased so this may be my last contribution. I had expected long ago that this topic would have moved on, but there seems to be some rigidity of thought and mixed up feelings. I do not want any further publicity, but I proposed a Motion for the next ARM. Some minor clarification in wording was made by Ton Kane to make it votable in sections. As you see the applicants represent the interest of the individual concerned and the doctors only give factual reports. The decision is a legal one. One has to start a process somewhere and I feel this could initiate a way forward.

Although I did go to an ARM in Brighton, I feel others must take up the cause now as I shall not be there. I did send emails to the Chair of the BMA Ethical committee and Professor Wendy Savage with this proposed Motion, but have not heard from either.

“that this meeting believes that there should be a legal process permitting the ending of human life in England, and in the devolved nations.

Such process should include:

i) The subject should be one applicant if competent, and there shall be another applicant holding an enduring power of attorney for the subject, otherwise two applicants each holding a similar enduring power of attorney.

ii) There shall be two independent medical reports, to be submitted with the applications, if possible one from a doctor with prior knowledge of the subject.

iii) The doctor’s reports will not contain any recommendation for further action.

iv) A legally qualified person, not employed by the NHS, will consider the applications and reports and will decide whether or not the life may be terminated.

v) A person properly trained and legally authorised to end life, and who is not employed by the NHS but who is responsible to the legally qualified person who determines the outcome of the application, shall act if approval is given.

vi) No person employed in any profession directly involving health care should be permitted to end life.”​

This is limited, but, I hope, tight enough to be a start. It is high time we moved on somewhat. I wish you well in your endeavours.

John Sarginson, retired member of the BMA.

Competing interests: No competing interests

16 May 2018
John Sarginson
retired member of the BMA.