No change for doctors on assisted suicide

Doctors' position remains unchanged by guidance on the public interest factors to be considered when deciding whether to prosecute the offence of assisted suicide, according to the Medical Defence Union (MDU)

Ian Baker, MDU solicitor, said: ‘Public interest factors in favour of prosecution include the ‘victim' not having a clear and settled wish to commit suicide, and that the suspect was not wholly motivated by compassion.

‘Other factors in favour of prosecution which may carry less weight include the fact that the suspect was not the spouse, partner, close relative, or close personal friend of the victim; that the suspect was paid by the victim for the assistance; or that the suspect was paid to care for the victim in a care/nursing home environment.

‘Those public interest factors which might weigh against prosecution include the victim having a clear, settled and informed wish to commit suicide and that the suspect had sought to dissuade the victim.

‘It is important to recognise that nothing in the Director of Public Prosecution's guidance changes the law in any way, neither does it give a guarantee that prosecution will not take place.

‘Doctors approached by patients for advice about suicide should not engage in discussion which assists the patient to that end.'

View the guidance and participate in the consultation exercise at the Crown Prosecution Service.

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