The Royal College of Physicians has announced that it has moved to a position of neutrality on the issue of so-called assisted dying. The full breakdown of the results can be accessed here.
Co-chairs of Living and Dying Well Professor Baroness Finlay of Llandaff and Lord Carlile of Berriew QC said in a joint statement today:
"The Royal College of Physicians has released the results of its consultation on so-called ‘assisted dying’ and announced that the College has adopted a neutral position on the question of whether doctors should be licensed to supply lethal drugs to terminally-ill patients who request them and appear to meet certain broad conditions. Yet only 25 per cent of respondents said they wished the College to have a neutral position.
"No one will be surprised by the outcome of this poll, the rules for which were changed to involve a significant departure from those governing previous consultations and which were set, under pressure from campaigners for assisted suicide, in such a way as to produce the result they have. In fact, nearly twice as many RCP members and fellows voted for the College to oppose assisted suicide than voted for neutrality. Yet as a result of the recent arbitrary and politically-motivated change in the rules their views have been ignored.
"The change in voting rules, which was made without any consultation or authorisation from RCP members, has understandably attracted widespread criticism, prompting the former Chair of the College’s ethics committee to describe this consultation as a ‘sham.’
"Since the consultation’s inception, the potential for voting irregularities has also come to light, casting further doubt on the credibility of this entire exercise. Joshua Rozenberg has written in the Law Society Gazette that ‘there can be little chance that any well-informed person will be taken in by such a suspect poll.’ Paralympic athlete Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson has described it as 'a travesty of a consultation'.
"Campaigners for assisted suicide may try to claim that the consultation shows a shift in medical opinion on this highly-charged matter. In reality it cannot be regarded as a serious expression of medical opinion and it has damaged the College's reputation as a professional body."