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Scrutineers share concerns ahead of assisted dying debate

Scrutineers share concerns ahead of assisted dying debate

Wednesday 15 May 2024

Scrutineers share concerns ahead of assisted dying debate

Wednesday 15 May 2024


Members of a Scrutiny panel reviewing the proposals to introduce assisted dying in Jersey have expressed concerns about some elements of the plans, seeking further details from the Health Minister before the matter is debated in the States Assembly next week.

Following a convincing vote by States Members in 2021 in favour of the principle of allowing islanders the right to die in certain defined circumstances, politicians are set to debate details about how the topic would become part of Jersey law.

The Assisted Dying review panel, chaired by Deputy Louise Doublet, has published a report ahead of the debate, including a number of findings and recommendations.

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Pictured: The Assisted Dying Review Panel is chaired by Deputy Louise Doublet.

Deputy Doublet describes the topic as "one of the most important areas of policy and legislation that any States Assembly will ever be asked to consider".

"How we deal with death and dying in our community, is just as important as the way we deal with life and living," she states in the introduction to the report.

"We must not shy away from this – a ‘good death’ is just as important as a good life."

One of four key recommendations within the report concerns palliative and end-of-life care in Jersey, with a call for Health Minister to publish a plan covering this area at least two months before detailed legislation – expected to take around 18 months to be drafted – comes back to the Assembly.

The panel also expresses concern that the proposition lodged by Ministers does not cover the training required in order to identify and prevent potential coercion, and asking Deputy Binet to provide details about training prior to the law being debated.

The other key recommendations cover:

  • A call that Deputy Binet should support the panel's amendment to his proposition, adjusting the wording to provide greater clarity.
  • The possible use of the General Hospital as a setting for assisted dying: this should only occur as "a last resort", the report states, with a demand that sufficient planning takes place to prioritise patient wishes about where an assisted death would take place.

Although the existing proposals only cover assisted deaths for those aged 18 and above, the report also addresses the potential that this age limit might be adjusted at a later date, calling on the Health Minister to engage with the Children's Commissioner before any future consultation with under-18s takes place.

The report also calls for greater detail to be provided before next week's debate by Deputy Binet across three areas: concerns raised by a recent ethical review about unbearable suffering being one of the routes for assisted dying; the strategy for palliative and end-of-life care; and how the proposed assisted dying tribunal will operate.

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