There are a number of upfront safeguards built into the Assisted Dying Bill. The primary safeguard being that any patient who requests assistance to die will need to be strictly assessed by two doctors each acting independently of the other and also a High Court judge.

Both doctors must be satisfied that the patient has:

  • A terminal illness (with a prognosis of six months or less to live).
  • Mental capacity.
  • Full information about their end-of-life care options.
  • Ability to make a voluntary and informed decision free from pressure.

There would be a mandatory period of reflection after the medical examinations and before the patient receives the medication. A request for an assisted death could be withdrawn at any time.

Currently there are no such safeguards. Those travelling to Switzerland are not subject to any investigation into the independence of the patient’s decision-making. This only occurs after they have been assisted to die.


Some of the key safeguards contained in the Assisted Dying Bill are:

  • Assessments by two independent doctors to establish whether the request is well-informed, persistent & voluntary
  • Referral to a specialist consultant if mental competency is in doubt
  • The patient would be fully informed about palliative and supportive care available to them
  • The patient’s request would be witnessed (by someone who must not be a relative or directly involved in the patient’s care or treatment)
  • A waiting period of 14 days for the patient to reflect on their decision. This may be reduced to six days if the two doctors agree that the patient’s death is reasonably expected to occur within one month
  • Patients could orally revoke the request at any point


Finally, the Bill contains a ten-year ‘sunset clause’ – if the law does not continue to have the support of Parliament then it will fall without the need for statutory repeal.


Those who would not be eligible for medical help to die under the Assisted Dying Bill are:

  • People with non-terminal illnesses
  • People with disabilities who are not terminally ill
  • Elderly people who are not terminally ill
  • People who are not mentally competent, including those with dementia or Alzheimer’s even if they are terminally ill
  • People who are under 18