Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature Assisted Dying

Help to die campaign’s “bad death” video polarises doctors

BMJ 2019; 366 doi: (Published 27 September 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;366:l5667
  1. Melanie Newman, freelance journalist
  1. London
  1. melanienewman999{at}

A pressure group has used a controversial film to publicise claims that 17 UK people die in pain every day, writes Melanie Newman

A video of a patient dying in agony in a hospice, made to promote a change in UK law to permit assisted dying, has divided clinicians and the public. Critics of the video,1 which features an elderly man writhing and groaning in a hospice bed, have damned it as inaccurate, irresponsible, and sensationalist.

Rachel Clarke, a palliative care doctor and writer, tweeted: “The very last thing the debate on assisted dying needs is deeply misleading and wildly inaccurate portrayals of dying in a hospice. I have NEVER witnessed what is portrayed here.”2

But the pressure group Dignity in Dying, which campaigns for legal assisted dying, said that the film reflected the reality of death for a “significant minority” of people. It produced the film and released it on social media to advertise its new report on the limits of palliative care.

That report, The Inescapable Truth,3 claims that 17 people …

View Full Text

Log in

Log in through your institution


* For online subscription