Monday, 6 June 2011

Telegraph highlights my comments on End of Life Charter not addressing religious beliefs

On returning from a trip to Canada, for the Third International Symposium on preventing assisted suicide and euthanasia, I see that the Daily Telegraph has picked up on my earlier criticism that the End of Life Charter doesn't address religious beliefs'

In an article titled ‘Dying charter “doesn't address religious beliefs”’ the Telegraph reports:

Dr Peter Saunders, chief executive of the Christian Medical Fellowship, welcomed the introduction of the end-of-life patients' charter, drawn up by the Royal College of GPs and the Royal College of Nursing.

He said: "In the main it seems a good attempt to improve patient care at the end of life."

But he said it only made "passing reference to 'spiritual support'", while there was "nothing specific about understanding the patient's world view or religious faith and how it might help them cope with death."

He went on: "In particular there is no mention at all about understanding what beliefs the patient might have about life after death or how this might affect their dying process."

Dr Saunders, a former general surgeon, also thought there should be more emphasis in the seven-point charter - which is to be hung on GP surgery walls - recognising "the vulnerability of many people who are dying and a commitment to protect them from financial, emotional or physical abuse".

The Telegraph also reports that some of my thoughts were mirrored by Michelle Mitchell, charity director at Age UK.

Describing the charter as "a positive step", she went on: "But these aspirations need to be translated into action."

"Over 80 per cent of deaths in England and Wales are people over 65 years, yet they do not always receive the care they deserve at the end of life," she said.

"Older people must be able to expect more from their GP and wider healthcare team. All medical staff need more and better training on end of life issues, particularly communication, and there needs to be much closer coordination between health and social care."

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