GPs should look at assisted dying requests, panel concludes

GPs must play a central role in assessing requests from patients wanting to be assisted to die, a panel has concluded.

The Commission on Assisted Dying has developed a core set of principles that it believes would need to underlie a framework for legalised assisted dying.

The panel said that a patient’s GP or other usual doctor should be ensure requests are genuine and that all other care options have been presented to the patient.

In its report the Commission on Assisted Dying wrote: ‘The Commission envisages that the patient’s usual doctor (most likely their GP or a specialist in their condition) would be responsible for exploring the individual’s request, understanding whether it was a serious request or a 'cry for help' that could be addressed in another way, and exploring whether access to other types of care and support might remove the patient’s wish to die.

‘The doctor would need to give these conversations time and ensure that the patient had enough time to reflect on their decision and discuss it with other people in their life.’

The Commission said there was a strong case for providing the choice of assisted dying to terminally ill people, and that a legal framework for this could be developed.

Two doctors ‘wholly independent of one another’ would need to assess any requests for assisted dying, and a range of other safeguards would need to be in place before any such system were introduced, the panel concluded.

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