Palliative medicine and dying with dignity

 

Sir, – As individuals and members of the Irish Palliative Medicine Consultants’ Association (IPMCA), we are gravely concerned by any proposal to legislate for assisted suicide and euthanasia in Ireland.

Based on our collective experience over many decades of providing specialist care to thousands of individuals in Ireland and their families each year, we have closely observed the experiences of people who have lived and are living with serious illness.

The threats of the proposed Bill to healthcare in Ireland, to the true meaning of the doctor-patient relationship and to the future of what we know compassionate and supportive specialist palliative care to be are many. We worry about the impact on people who already struggle to have their voices heard in our society – older adults, the disabled, those with mental illness and others. We worry that the most vulnerable are those who may be made to feel a burden to their families and come under pressure to end their lives prematurely.

Our experiences tell us that many in our society don’t really know what dying is like, or how rare it is that severe pain cannot be controlled. Most people do not see that within the easing of physical, psychological or spiritual distress and addressing people’s fears, hopes, sadness and loss, the goal of palliative care remains to enhance the living of each life which often transforms the experiences of living, dying and bereavement for individual patients and their families.

We are convinced that as dying with dignity is already present within healthcare in Ireland, no change to our current laws is required. – Yours, etc,

FEARGAL TWOMEY,

Consultant Physician

in Palliative Medicine,

Limerick and

Chairman of the Irish

Palliative Medicine

Consultants’ Association;

Prof TONY O’BRIEN,

Clinical Professor

of Palliative Medicine,

University College Cork;

Dr MARIE TWOMEY,

Consultant in Palliative

Medicine,

St Luke’s Hospital,

Dublin 6;

Dr NORMA O’LEARY,

Consultant Physician

in Palliative Medicine,

Our Lady’s Hospice

and Care Services and

St James’s Hospital,

Dublin 8,

Dr VAL O’REILLY,

Consultant in Palliative

Medicine,

Limerick;

Prof KAREN RYAN,

UCD Clinical Professor,

Consultant in Palliative

Medicine;

Dr DENISE HAYES,

Consultant in Palliative

Medicine,

University Hospital

Waterford;

FAITH CRANFIELD,

Consultant in Palliative

Medicine,

St Francis Hospice

Blanchardstown and

Connolly Hospital,

Dublin 15;

MARIAN CONROY,

Consultant Physician in Palliative Medicine,

UL Hospitals Group and

Milford Care Centre, Limerick;

Dr MAGS CLIFFORD,

Consultant in Palliative Medicine

Cork Kerry Community Healthcare,

Kerry Specialist

Palliative Care Services,

University Hospital Kerry;

Dr CATHRYN BOGAN,

Consultant in Palliative Medicine

North West Hospice,

Sligo University Hospital;

Dr AISLING O’GORMAN,

Consultant Physician

in Palliative Medicine,

Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer,

Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland,

Louth & Meath Specialist Palliative

Care Services,

Dóchas Centre,

Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital,

Drogheda;

Dr CLARE MCALEER,

Consultant in Palliative Medicine ,

Beaumont Hospital,

and St Francis Hospice, Raheny;

Dr BARBARA

SHEEHY-SKEFFINGTON,

Locum Consultant

in Palliative Medicine,

Our Lady’s Hospice and Care Services,

and St James’s Hospital, Dublin;

Dr. BERNADETTE BRADY,

Consultant in Palliative Medicine,

Tallaght University Hospital;

Dr EILEEN MANNION,

Clinical Lecturer

in Palliative Medicine, NUIG,

Consultant in Palliative Medicine,

Galway University Hospital and Roscommon,

Clinical Lecturer in Palliative Medicine, NUIG,

Consultant in Palliative Medicine,

Galway University Hospital

& Portiuncula University Hospitals;

DR MAEVE O’REILLY,

Consultant in Palliative Medicine,

St Luke’s Hospital, Dublin,

Locum Consultant in Palliative Medicine,

UL Hospitals Group

and Milford Care Centre, Limerick.