RCN ends opposition to assisted suicide

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has ended its opposition to assisted suicide and moved instead to a neutral position.

The decision follows an extensive and detailed consultation process and means that the College neither supports nor opposes a change in the law to allow assisted suicide.

The consultation found that 49% of RCN members supported assisted suicide with 40% against, 9% were neutral and 1% failed to record a position. There were over 1,200 individual responses.

The Council also decided that nurses need detailed guidance on the issue which will now be commissioned. The guidance will consider the complicated legal, regulatory, ethical and clinical frameworks around assisted suicide.

Dr Peter Carter, RCN chief executive, said: ‘The split in responses shows that there is no overwhelming support among nurses for either opposing or supporting a change in the law on assisted suicide.

‘We fully support the common themes that came through the consultation, namely maintaining the nurse-patient relationship, protecting vulnerable patients and making sure there is adequate investment in end-of-life care.'

An Independent Nurse survey in April found that two-thirds of nurses backed the legalisation of assisted suicide.


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