Assisted Dying UK: Half of BMA Members Surveyed Support Change in Law

A survey of BMA members found that half (50%) support a change in the law for assisted dying to allow doctors to prescribe life-ending drugs. Read more...

  • Date: 12 October 2020

A SURVEY of BMA members found that half support a change in the law to allow doctors to prescribe life-ending drugs.

The results of this "largest survey to date" into assisted dying are not intended to determine policy on the matter but will inform debate at the next BMA Annual Representative Meeting (ARM). The BMA remains opposed to assisted dying in all forms.

The survey found that 40 per cent of respondents said that the BMA should actively support attempts to change the law, while 33 per cent favoured opposition and 21 per cent felt the BMA should adopt a neutral position.

Half (50 per cent) of surveyed members personally believed that there should be a change in the law to permit doctors to prescribe life-ending drugs, with 39 per cent opposed and 11 per cent undecided.

The survey also found that 36 per cent of respondents would be prepared to actively participate, with 45 per cent not prepared to do so and 19 per cent undecided.

Nearly 29,000 BMA members took part in the survey between 6 and 27 February 2020.

Dr John Chisholm, BMA medical ethics committee chair, said: "Physician-assisted dying is an emotive and sensitive issue that understandably ignites a broad range of strong personal views across both the general public and the medical profession, and the results from this survey give us a valuable insight into the breadth of views held by the BMA’s membership.

"As we have made clear from the outset, these results are not intended to form but to inform BMA policy, and it is not for me, or the BMA as an association to provide an interpretation of what they mean or what should happen next at this stage. Rather, these detailed findings will make for an in-depth, considered debate on the future of the BMA’s policy when our members meet at the next Annual Representative Meeting."

Link: Physician-assisted dying survey

This page was correct at the time of publication. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.

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