The decriminalisation of assisted dying should be a matter for society as a whole to decide, and no particular group within it should have a disproportionate influence on this decision. This is why HPAD believes the organisations that represent healthcare professionals should hold a position of neutrality on assisted dying. Neutrality is not indifference. It would not prevent our representative bodies participating in public debates on assisted dying, quite the contrary: it would enable them to participate constructively. This was the stance taken by the Royal College of Nursing in 2009.

  • 54% of GPs are supportive or neutral to a change in the law. Despite the public perception, less than half of GPs (42%) are opposed.
  • Over half of GPs (51%) would be willing to be involved in the assisted dying process. This is more than enough for an assisted dying law to function, given the relatively small number of dying people which would go through with a request.
  • A poll of GPs in England and Wales found 40% would want the choice of an assisted death if they were terminally ill, 25% were unsure, and 32% would not personally want the choice (Medeconnect, May 2014)
  • 61% of GPs across England and Wales feel that representative medical bodies, such as the British Medical Association and the Royal College of GPs should be neutral on the issue (Medeconnect, May 2014)
  • Polls in 2003 (Nursing Times) and 2009 (Independent Nurse) show that the majority of nurses support assisted dying (66% and 64% respectively)
  • The Royal College of Nursing, Royal College of Psychiatrists, Royal Pharmaceutical Society and Royal Society of Medicine are all neutral on assisted dying.
  • The British Medical Association refused to debate Assisted Dying at the 2014 Annual Representatives. This was in spite of 23 motions being submitted to the Agenda Committee on the subject.
  • In 2014 the RCGP announced that they would maintain their stance of opposition to a change in the law on assisted dying. This followed a consultation with members the previous year. The consultation itself, and the way the results were presented by the RCGP, have been criticised by HPAD Steering Committee member Dr Philip Hartropp in a letter to the BMJ.