A quarter of Jersey doctors have said they would “always” be willing to assist patients to die if they were legally allowed to do so, according to a survey commissioned by a campaign group leading local efforts to bring about assisted dying.
Research agency 4insight surveyed 71 doctors, a majority of whom dealt with terminally ill patients on a regular basis - and found that a third of them (34%) believed that assisted dying was “always acceptable” in cases where the condition would eventually cause death.
The survey, commissioned by 'End of Life Choices', presented participants with four different situations and asked then how acceptable it would be to assist someone to die in each case.
Where the patient would die in the next six months, 63% of doctors said assisted dying would be acceptable.
If the patient’s condition would not directly cause death, 39% of doctors said it was only “sometimes acceptable” (39%), with only 6% stating “always acceptable.”
Pictured: The survey presented participants with four different situations. (4insight)
The proportion of respondents answering “never acceptable” across the different scenarios ranged from 31% to 41%. “This demonstrated an element of polarisation in views from the doctors,’ 4insight wrote in their report.
These results were much higher than general islanders’ views, which 4insight consulted earlier this year.
Doctors were also asked how willing they would be to assist in cases such as those outlined within the survey, if legally and professionally allowed to do so. Over a third (38%) said they would “never” be willing, while 25% believed they would “always” be willing.
The numbers of participants responding “sometimes” and “occasionally” were similar with 17% and 20% respectively.
Pictured: 38% of doctors said they would never be wiling to assist patients to die.
Islanders have previously expressed support for assisted dying.
In his official reply to a petition, Deputy Richard Renouf, the Health Minister said that “due to the complexity, sensitivity and gravity of the issue”, he would consult his fellow Ministers on it.
As a result of these discussions, the Council of Ministers announced in February their intention to undertake further research into end of life choices in the island to get to grips with “the legal, ethical and practical” implications of legalising assisted dying.
This research will be carried out before the States take the issue out for public consultation to gauge islanders’ views on the matter.
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