This site is intended for health professionals only

Concern over assisted suicide guidelines for doctors

1 March 2010

Share this article

A leading medical legal adviser has raised concerns that new guidelines on prosecution for assisted suicide do not have enough clarity concerning doctors and health professionals.

Medical Defence Union (MDU) solicitor Ian Barker said: “We are profoundly concerned to see the final form of the director of public prosecution’s policy in relation to assisted suicide.

“It is regrettable that the factor in favour of prosecution relating specifically to doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals (14) was not contained within the draft guidelines for consultation, preventing the MDU and others from passing comment on it.

“Doctors who are usually legally required to provide reports and/or medical records when requested to do so by patients may find themselves in some difficulty when the patient who is requesting them is contemplating assisted suicide.

“The MDU’s advice to its members remains that doctors approached by patients for advice about suicide should not engage in discussion which assists the patient to that end. Members who are faced with requests for help from patients, including for example the provision of medical reports, should contact us for advice.”

Copyright © Press Association 2010