7 October 2008
Confused, concerned and unclear: People left baffled by end-of-life rights, warns new ICM poll
Rantzen backs new guide as poll shows a third think assisted dying is legal in the UK
Widespread public uncertainty and confusion over end of life rights is revealed in a new ICM poll, released today, by national campaign organisation Dignity in Dying.
TV presenter and journalist Esther Rantzen is today backing a new guide on end-of-life rights as the poll reveals most people think they have more rights than they actually do.
The ICM poll, released as Your Rights at the End of Life is published, reveals:
– 29% of people think that assisted dying is legal in the UK, it is not
– 67% believe that you have the right to hospice care if you are dying or have a terminal illness – currently not the case
– 27% of people think you cannot refuse medical treatment in advance if you lose the ability to communicate you can use an Advance Decision
– 56% believing they can die in the place of their choosing, most cannot.
Esther Rantzen said:
“Death is often described as the last taboo. Most of us avoid talking about death and dying until we’re faced with the death of someone close to us. This guide aims to help break down that taboo and gives valuable guidance about our rights at the end of life.
“I support choice at the end of life. If people don’t have the information they can’t make the choices. Of course, it is up to each of us to decide what we believe to be a good death, but I hope this guide will help with that decision and enable us all to make choices and plan ahead.”
Sarah Wootton, Chief Executive of Dignity in Dying said:
“There is clearly a lot of confusion around what is a right and what isn’t in end of life care. Worryingly, expectations currently don’t match reality.”
The poll also reveals that 61% know that they have the right to refuse medical treatment in advance if they lose the ability to communicate, yet only 11% have an Advance Decision, which would allow them to set out in advance what medical treatment they would like to refuse.
Sarah Wootton said:
“It is only by making your wishes known in advance that medical staff and others are legally bound to take them into account. More must be done to increase the awareness and prominence of Advance Decisions.”
Dignity in Dying is today launching a guide: ‘Your Rights at the End of Life’ which outlines the options available for end of life care in attempt to address the current confusion.
‘Know Your Rights at the End of Life’ is available to download free from the Dignity in Dying website: www.dignityindying.org.uk/yourrights/.
For the full results of the ICM poll, please contact Melissa Milner Melissa@dhacommunications.co.uk 020 7793 4035 / 07976 636 228 or Daniel Harris 020 7793 4038
Dignity in Dying is the leading organisation in the UK for greater patient choice at the end of life.
Dignity in Dying wants the option of assisted dying for mentally competent, terminally ill adults in unbearable suffering, and has more than 100,000 supporters.
ICM interviewed a random sample of 1017 adults aged 18+ by telephone between 26th – 28th September 2008. Surveys were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Further information at http://www.icmresearch.co.uk/.
Legal Health Rights Survey- ICM Polling summary
September 26th-28th 2008- representative sample of 1,017 adults across the UK
Q1: The following legal rights may or may not exist. Please indicate whether you think the following rights in the UK are true or false.
(a) The right to die where you choose
Don’t Know 9%
(b) The right to assisted death
Don’t know 12%
(C) The right to refuse medical treatment
Don’t Know 5%
(d) The right to refuse medical treatment in advance if you lose the ability to communicate
Don’t Know 12%
(e) The right to hospice care, if you are dying or have a terminal illness
Don’t Know 10%
Q2: Do you currently have an Advance Decision and/ a health and welfare Lasting Power of Attorney?
I have an Advance Decision 11%
I have a health and welfare Lasting Power of Attorney 14%
I have neither 83%
Don’t know 1%