GPs lead calls to allow euthanasia

Support for euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide is three times higher among GPs than among palliative care specialists, research has found.

Results of a survey of more than 3,700 UK doctors found that a third of GPs expressed support for euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide.

Fewer than one in 10 palliative care specialists did so.

Professor Clive Seale, of Queen Mary University of London, carried out the research. He commented: 'Opposition is particularly strong among palliative medicine specialists and, to a lesser extent, among specialists in care of the elderly, in both of which specialties doctors have more experience of caring for people who die.'

The results of the study, published in Palliative Medicine, also show that doctors who have strong religious beliefs are more likely to oppose euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, regardless of specialty.

A GP survey published earlier this year found that 38 per cent of GPs would help terminally ill patients in chronic pain end their lives if the law allowed it.

Both the GPC and the RCGP remain opposed to euthanasia. At a BMA debate in 2006, doctors opposed changing the law on euthanasia.

tom.moberly@haymarket.com

- Palliative Medicine 2009; 23: 205-12

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