Dying with Dignity Bill

 

Sir, – It is so important as a society that we provide compassionate, person-centred care for persons with advanced, progressive and terminal illnesses.

Although the intention of the Bill was intended to be compassionate and respectful of personal autonomy, two values we also cherish, the proposed Bill was unsafe and tried to define in law that a dignified death in Ireland was a death by physician-hastened death or physician-provided euthanasia.

It demeaned natural dying in doing so.

This was a negative and devaluing message to both persons with terminal illnesses and their family caregivers.

We agree with the Oireachtas Committee on Justice in its conclusion that “it may have unintended policy consequences (particularly regarding the lack of sufficient safeguards to protect against undue pressure being put on vulnerable people to avail of assisted dying)”.

Looking at other countries practising physician prescribed hastened death and physician-provided euthanasia, especially Canada and the Netherlands, the criteria for eligibility increases, more people become eligible over time and safeguards are removed.

Dr Will Johnston (Letters, July 5th) highlighted the worrying scarcity of discussion on the inclusion of persons with disabilities alone or mental illness alone having access to physician-delivered euthanasia and physician-prescribed hastened death in Canada.

Patients with terminal illnesses will soon be able to access same day euthanasia and physician-prescribed hastened death in Canada but they can experience difficulty and delays accessing palliative care and psychiatric services there.

This is of particular concern in Ireland where lack of resourcing impacts access to care with severe difficulties in accessing inpatient and specialist multidisciplinary mental health services in the community.

Patient safety and compassionate care must be at the core of end-of-life care.

Although some may try to polarise this debate, on both sides, most of us have this shared goal.

We need to prioritise access to disability, pain teams, palliative care and mental health services based on patient need not service availability and work together to ensure that all have timely access to quality care with compassionate, safe, end-of-life care for all. – Yours, etc,

Dr GABRIELLE

COLLERAN,

Consultant Radiologist,

Dublin;

Dr ERIC KELLEHER,

Consultant Liaison

Psychiatry,

Cork;

Dr MIRIAM COLLERAN,

Consultant in

Palliative Medicine,

Kildare.