May 29, 2024

UK nurses go neutral on assisted suicide

Only tiny fraction support it.
The peak body for nurses in the UK, the Royal College of Nursing, has become the only major medical institution to drop its opposition to assisted suicide. It now says that it will neither support nor oppose a change in the law.

The news was highly controversial in Britain, where a debate is raging over the legalisation of assisted suicide. Daily Mail and Spectator columnist Melanie Phillips fulminated that the decision would "send us down a slippery slope, which could lead all the way from assisted suicide to euthanasia by lethal injection, from helping the terminally ill to end their lives to killing people suffering from Alzheimer’s or depression".

The College said that the move "followed an extensive and detailed consultation process". However, the actual number involved in the decision suggest that this is a rather strained interpretation of the word "consultation". The College has 400,000 members. Of these, the College surveyed only 175,000. Of these, only 1,200 individuals replied to the survey. Of these, less than half – only 49% — supported assisted suicide. A substantial minority of 40% opposed it. The remainder were either neutral (9%) or failed to record their views (1%).

Two nurses, Vicky Robinson and Ray Greenwood, expressed their astonishment at the change in an article in the London Telegraph:

"So, what exactly is going on in the Royal College of Nursing? To attempt to represent the views of a tiny fraction of nurses as those of the whole profession is egregiously unjust and unfair. To suggest that the views expressed by 0.3% of nurses represent a fair picture of what the other 99.7% think is stretching the limits of credibility too far… if [nurses] don’t want to have a practice foisted onto them that could bring them and their patients real problems, they had better speak up now before it’s too late.." ~ Royal College of Nursing, July 24