Assisted dying: RCGP remains opposed to law change

Royal College of GPs (RCGP) remains opposed to change in the law on assisted dying

This is an edited version of an article first published by the RCGP.

The Royal College of General Practitioners will continue to oppose a change in the law on assisted dying, following a consultation of its members. The decision was ratified by the RCGP’s governing Council today.

The member survey was conducted independently by Savanta ComRes. 6,674 members from across the UK responded to the online survey – 13.47% of those consulted.

Members were asked whether RCGP should change its current position of opposing a change in the law on assisted dying:

  • 47% of respondents said that the RCGP should oppose a change in the law on assisted dying.
  • 40% of respondents said the RCGP should support a change in the law on assisted dying, providing there is a regulatory framework and appropriate safeguarding processes in place.
  • 11% of respondents said that the RCGP should have a neutral position.
  • 2% of respondents abstained from answering.

RCGP Council agreed today that the survey results did not support a change in the College’s existing position on assisted dying.

Under current laws in each of the four UK nations, assisted dying is illegal. The RCGP last reviewed its position on assisted dying in 2014 following a member consultation in 2013.

RCGP Council has decided that it will not review the College`s position on this issue for at least five years unless there are significant developments on the issue.

Professor Martin Marshall, chair of the RCGP, said: “As the UK’s largest medical Royal College it is important that we engage in debate and listen to what our members have to say on wide-ranging issues affecting GPs and their patients.

“Assisted dying is a controversial topic and this was reflected in the responses to our consultation. However, the highest proportion of respondents said that the College should continue to oppose a change in the law on assisted dying.

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“This was the largest consultation on an issue of public policy that the College has conducted both in terms of response rate and volume of respondents. The survey results have been helpful in guiding College Council as to what our position should be.

“The role of the College now is to ensure that patients receive the best possible palliative and end of life care, and to this end we are working with Marie Curie and others to support this.

“Thank you to RCGP Joint Honorary Secretary Dr Victoria Tzortziou-Brown for leading this piece of work.”

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