Hospital on alert over protest fears

 

A CORK hospital is stepping up security today ahead of a lecture on the legalisation of euthanasia.

Hospital security are preparing for the possibility of a public protest at Cork University Hospital to coincide with the public lecture at 5pm.

The lecture has sparked controversy over its content, cost and benefit to the public.

It is funded by the Health Service Executive and features guest speaker Prof Len Doyal, a supporter of euthanasia and emeritus professor of medical ethics at the London School of Medicine and Dentistry and St Bartholomew’s Hospital. Prof Doyal has been on the British Medical Association’s ethics committee for 12 years.

Bishop of Cork and Ross John Buckley referred to the lecture yesterday when opening a new home for the Irish Sisters of Charity in Cork city.

He said euthanasia was wrong as it was the deliberate ending of a human life before its natural end.

He said many people had contrasted the euthanasia lecture with the work of the Sisters of Charity – who are dedicated in helping the sick and the terminally ill.

Human life was a precious gift to be loved and defended in each of its stages, he said.

“People expect doctors and those in the medical profession to heal and save lives, not to end them. Euthanasia undermines the relationship between patients and their doctors and those in the medical profession,” he added.

Anti-euthanasia group Youth Defence had queried taxpayer funding of the lecture and claimed it was “absolutely unacceptable that the Government is using our taxes to promote an agenda which targets the old and the vulnerable for extermination”.

The lecture will go ahead in the face of a number of complaints made to the hospital.

A recorded message has been put in place to deal with the high number of complaints to the hospital regarding the lecture.

The 50-second recording states the guest speaker nor the topic reflect the views of the Health Service Executive, the hospital or the hospital’s ethics forum.

The HSE has defended the hospital’s right to stage the lecture, which forms part of an annual series of lectures at the hospital, organised by the Cork University Hospital (CUH) ethics forum.

“It is appropriate for CUH’s ethics forum to organise extracurricular lectures in a large teaching hospital for staff,” said an HSE spokeswoman.

“The lectures happen annually and are after hours. Costs are minimal and CUH has balanced its budget every year and will do so again this year.

“The purpose of these lectures is to discuss topical and sensitive issues and give staff the opportunity to debate these issues in a learning forum,” the HSE spokeswoman said.

Kathy Sinnott, an MEP for Munster, said vulnerable people were at risk if Prof Doyal’s opinions as an ethicist were taken on board.

“Doyal extols the virtue of rationing healthcare to medical professionals who might otherwise feel guilty about picking and choosing who to help,” said Ms Sinnott.

“Further, if the lack of medical treatment causes suffering, Doyal indicated that doctors should be allowed to proactively euthanise patients,” she said.