In response to the notice issued by Dignity in Dying in advance of tomorrow's launch of Healthcare Professionals for Change, Sir Richard Thompson, president of the Royal College of Physicians made the following statement:
'As the population continues to age, a higher burden of complex and debilitating illness will ensue. For a minority of patients the prospect of a diminishing quality of life increasingly bereft of autonomy is deeply frightening and society should debate how to address their concerns. However when last canvassed in 2008, although they were divided, a clear majority of our members did not support a change in the law. Their concerns came from a belief that many of its advocates do not recognise adequately the clinical realities of managing serious illness and disability. And while uncomfortable to discuss, we also need to consider how the complex dynamics of patient-family relationships may bear upon the choices a patient makes. From the clinician's perspective, it also poses serious challenges to the widely understood duties that physicians and other health care professionals owe to their patients. We therefore believe that for the moment the dilemmas raised by this issue are best addressed by improved access to high quality palliative care and better advanced planning.'
Notes to editors
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