Nurses Call for Action over Euthanasia Laws; Terminally Ill Patients 'Should Be Given a Say'

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Byline: REBECCA SMITH

NURSES have called for an overhaul of euthanasia laws after a series of cases in which patients went abroad to get help to end their lives.

Speakers at the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) annual congress in Harrogate said patients with terminal illness should have a say over the kind of death they experienced.

But the RCN's leaders said it would continue to oppose euthanasia.

Helen Ingram, a nurse from south London, said the RCN's opposition to changing the law to allow terminally ill and competent adults to choose to be helped to die had caused considerable disquiet among some nurses and patients.

She said: "It appears to be based on the false assumption that the current law works. To make the current law work you have to assume terminally ill patients never suffer unbearably and therefore none of them want assistance to die.

"You also have to assume that no health professionals nor family members break the law and help them to die. Evidence indicates that this is clearly not true."

Earlier this month a House of Lords select committee called for a Parliamentary debate on legalising assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia.

They had been considering Lord Joffe's assisted dying for the terminally ill Bill, but the committee was split on whether the law should be changed. …