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Dignity in Dying welcomes efforts by the GMC to ensure that patient choice is respected at the end of life –

Tomorrow the General Medical Council (GMC) will launch its draft guidance on end-of-life decision making for consultation. The guidance sets out the principles of patient choice at the end-of-life and a framework for good practice. It also makes clear that doctors will be held accountable if they choose not to follow this guidance.

Sarah Wootton, Chief Executive of Dignity in Dying says:
“Advance Decisions, formerly known as living wills, became legally binding under statutory law in October 2007 and marked a huge step forward for patient choice. We commend the GMC for launching this consultation, which will help ensure that patients’ wishes are respected at the end of life. Doctors need guidance on how to incorporate Advance Decisions into end of life care and patients need the reassurance that their wishes will be respected, and I hope that this guidance will do just that.”


Notes to editor:

Key issues covered by the GMC guidelines:

– These guidelines make clear that a competent patient has a right to refuse treatment, and that this refusal of treatment is legally binding, even if it results in their death.
– They also highlight the importance of doctors discussing the possibility of withholding potentially life prolonging treatment with terminally ill patients, even though the discussion may be difficult.
– The guidance reinforces the importance of written requests to refuse end-of-life treatment, in the form of Advance Decisions or living wills and reminds doctors that these decisions must be respected where it’s clearly applicable.
– Doctors with a conscientious objection to a patient’s refusal of treatment may withdraw from the care of that patient, but they must make arrangements for a suitable colleague to take over care of the patient.
– Doctors who do not follow GMC guidance on these issues must be prepared to explain and justify their actions and decisions, to patients and their families, to colleagues and, where necessary, the courts and the GMC.

About Dignity in Dying:

– Dignity in Dying is the leading provider of pro-choice Advance Decisions.
– Dignity in Dying is the leading organisation in the UK that advocates assisted dying for terminally ill patients.
– 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.

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