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Dignified death is basic human right (10 December 2007)

10 December 2007

Dignified death is basic human right

Leading campaign group, Dignity in Dying, are today calling for the right to die with dignity to mark Human Rights Day.

Dignity in Dying, the UK’s leading organisation campaigning for greater patient choice at the end of life, are calling for more awareness of the fact that a large proportion of the British public are denied what should be a basic human right- the choice of how and when they die.

Human Rights Day falls at the end of 2007, a year that has heard of the story of MS sufferer, Neville Badger, who died in a fire in his home, because he was denied the appropriate care and provision; the case of terminally ill Kelly Taylor, who was forced to apply to court for her right to die and end her suffering; and the realisation that 70 Britons have ended their lives at suicide clinic, Dignitas.

Ashley Riley, Head of Campaigns and Communications at Dignity in Dying, said:

“This year has seen some terrible cases of people’s wishes at the end of life not being respected. The fact that over one half of all complaints about the NHS are about end-of-life care is unsurprising. Access to palliative care is a postcode lottery and the service you receive depends on where you live. People with a terminal illness and who are unbearable suffering are denied the right to an assisted death and have to consider an unacceptable, morbid pilgrimage across Europe.”

Research earlier this year found that 57% of people would prefer to die at home, but only 20% do. In addition, the British Social Attitudes survey found that, again, over 80% of the UK population support a change in the law to allow medically assisted dying for the terminally ill.

Riley continued:

“The implementation of the Mental Capacity Act in October was a positive step forward in ensuring greater patient choice at the end of life, but the UK still has a very long way to go. Assisted dying should be a basic right for terminally ill, mentally competent adults who are suffering unbearably. Excellent palliative care should be available to all those who need it. More awareness of the importance of advance decisions is vital to ensure everyone has the best death possible.”

“The right to a good death is a basic human right that cannot and should not be ignored.”

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About Dignity in Dying:

Dignity in Dying is the leading organisation in the UK that advocates assisted dying for terminally ill patients and campaigns for greater patient choice at the end of life.

The organisation is also the country’s leading provider in information on end-of-life issues.

Dignity in Dying has over 100,000 supporters and receives its funding entirely from donations from the public.

Opinion polls consistently show that at least 80% of the UK population support a change in the law on assisted dying.

An interview with Ashley Riley is available to download at http://www.dignityindying.org.uk/aboutus/.

About Advance Decisions:

Dignity in Dying is the UK’s leading provider of Advance Decisions.

An Advance Decision allows a person to state whether or not they wish to refuse treatment in a situation where they cannot communicate.

Since the implementation of the Mental Capacity Act on October 1st, a refusal of treatment made in an Advance Decision is now statutory.

Dignity in Dying’s pro-choice Advance Decision also allows people to state their personal and spiritual beliefs and wishes, although anything stated under this remit is not legally binding.

All mentally competent adults can make an Advance Decision.

Media contacts:

For all media enquiries, please contact Jessica Tomlin on 020 7479 7736 or 07725 433025 or on Jessica.Tomlin@dignityindying.org.uk