The RPS policy on assisted suicide addresses many questions
Although it was good to see an update on the progress of the Westminster private members’ bill on assisted dying reported in last weeks’ editorial (2014;293:98) we were disappointed that no mention was made of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society policy and the amount of work RPS staff have already undertaken to support the profession, should this legislation be passed.
The RPS policy was developed across the three national boards, with an expert working group from all sectors of the profession, and a member reference group. Although taking a neutral stance to accommodate the spectrum of views among our members, the policy addresses many of the questions you have raised in the editorial, providing guidance, support and a framework for the finer details you mention, including the requirement for robust protocols, governance and a conscience clause.
The policy covers many sensitive areas linked to assisted suicide, including the need for improved access to palliative care in some therapeutic areas. It has been used to inform the bill team constructed by Lord Falconer to draft the bill under discussion and to engage with relevant politicians in Westminster and Holyrood, which has its own Assisted Dying Bill progressing through the Scottish Parliament.
This has already resulted in changes to the proposed legislation in England and Scotland. The RPS policy has also been used to inform discussions with other royal colleges to raise awareness of pharmacy issues and that the role of pharmacists goes far beyond supply. The policy is available on the website at www.rpharms.com/policy-pdfs/assisted-suicide—201301.pdf and, as always, we welcome members’ feedback.
Policy and Practice Lead for Scotland
Head of Public Affairs
Royal Pharmaceutical Society
Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2014.20066056
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