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Assisted Dying and those in pain

Many of you will have watched Prue and Danny’s Death Road Trip (Channel 4 production) in which Prue Leith talks movingly about watching her older brother David die in pain in 2012. Leith now supports assisted dying, while her son, Danny Kruger MP, is against it.

Dame Esther Rantzen has already recently disclosed that, following a lung cancer diagnosis, she is considering assisted dying as an option if her symptoms worsen.

Following this recent coverage of assisted dying, we have gathered some information regarding assisted dying and pain.

Inquiry into assisted suicide and assisted dying

The Health and Social Care Committee is considering evidence into assisted dying/assisted suicide, so we expect to hear more about the issues when they report. It is worth reminding ourselves about pain control at the end of life. Palliative Care services were pioneered in the 1960’s in the UK by Dame Cicely Saunders. Good services should encompass the physical, psychological, social, and spiritual aspects of pain and suffering. 

Yet reports have persisted of the under-treatment of pain or poor access to care, so in 2019 The Faculty of Pain Medicine along with the Association for Palliative Medicine, Association of Cancer Physicians and the Royal College of Radiologists (Faculty of Clinical Oncology), published a framework for pain service provisions for adults in the UK who have cancer or life-limiting diseases. Their guidance called for closer integration of pain management, oncology and palliative care services. Yet in 2021, The Association for Palliative Medicine UK wrote that, ‘Over 300 people a day in this country suffer unnecessarily due to lack of access to specialist palliative care services’.

Share your thoughts on assisted dying

Do you have experience of these services that you would like to share? Are you for or against assisted dying?  Tell us– we want to hear from you and know what you think.

Learn more about palliative care in Airing Pain editions 84: Cancer Pain and 110:Living With Cancer Pain – listen or read the transcripts.

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