A Christian advocacy group has welcomed the Royal College of GPs’ (RCGP) decision to remain opposed to a change in the law on assisted suicide and euthanasia.
The decision comes after the RCGP consulted with members on the issue and just under half (47 per cent) of those surveyed said the College should not change its position, while 40 per cent said it should support a law change, with caveats.
Assisted suicide and euthanasia is currently illegal in the UK and Christian Action Research & Education (CARE) has welcomed the College’s decision to remain opposed to any change in the law, insisting that the current law protects vulnerable people.
“It is very welcome that the RCGP has announced it will retain its official position of being opposed to all forms of assisted suicide and euthanasia,” James Mildred, CARE’s communications manager, told The Catholic Universe. “No other major professional medical body supports changing the law to introduce assisted suicide of any kind. The RCGP has today recognised the danger of either supporting or being neutral on assisted suicide.
“Vulnerable people need the protection of the current law and to know that medical professionals truly have their best interests at heart.
“Today’s decision will no doubt be noted by MPs and other elected representatives as a significant rebuff to those advocating for a dangerous change in the law.”
The RCGP Council, which was guided by the survey results, said it will not review its position for at least five years – unless there are ‘significant developments’.
Professor Martin Marshall, RCGP’s chairman, 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.”
He added: “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.”
The RCGP’s consultation was sent to 49,539 of its members, of whom 6,674 responded.
Some 11 per cent said the RCGP should be neutral, while two per cent abstained.
Picture: A ward at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital, Liverpool. (Peter Byrne/PA).