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Our reaction to the Parliamentary report on assisted dying

News and comment
Picture of Andy Fletcher, the CEO for Together for Short Lives

Yesterday (Thursday 29 February) the House of Commons Health and Social Care Select Committee published its inquiry report on assisted dying and assisted suicide

This is an extremely complex issue with many ethical and moral questions at its heart, not to mention the understandably strong emotions it evokes across all parts of society. As the UK’s charity for children’s palliative care, we represent people who support the general purpose, some who oppose it and some who are uncertain.

It’s important to note that, whilst the committee has focussed on the potential impact of any new legislation on AD/AS for adults, any change in the law would have an impact on young people with life-limiting conditions. The topic will resonate with those who have capacity to make decisions about their care; many will be wondering what it could mean for them.

There are some important physical, emotional and psychological differences between young people and older adults that any new legislation would need to address. Parliament would need to consider whether appropriate safeguarding measures could be put in place, while also ensuring young people still have the essential ability to choose their own care.

The committee rightly identifies that access to, and provision of, palliative and end-of-life care is patchy. Our own evidence clearly shows the inconsistent access that children and young people have to high quality, sustainable palliative care.

These findings support our calls to the UK governments and NHS bodies to work with us to overcome the gaps in workforce, address funding shortfalls and ensure accountability from the bodies legally responsible for commissioning children’s palliative and end of life care. They are causing an unacceptable postcode lottery for children with life-limiting conditions and their families, and it cannot continue.

You can read the written evidence that Together for Short Lives submitted to the committee as part of its inquiry on the Parliament website. This sets out in detail the potential implications of AD/AS on children and young people – and the action we believe parliament should take to address them should it choose to legislate in this area.

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