Author: Care Not Killing

Research indicates ‘a lack of understanding that death can be “gentle, peaceful and pain-free”‘ reported recently:

‘Public ignorance about dying increases fears about the pain and indignity associated with the event, senior medical academics say today. Large numbers of people get information from fictional events while the most common source of knowledge about dying is from family and friends, according to a survey conducted for the Academy of Medical Sciences. Some 20% say they have gained their knowledge from documentaries while just 22% have gained it from medical professionals.

‘This leads to a lack of understanding that death can be “gentle, peaceful and pain-free”, according to Professor Dame Lesley Fallowfield, professor of psycho-oncology at Sussex University. The survey found that 60% of people said they knew “just a little” about what happens at the end of life.’

What is there to know? According to the Economist Intelligence Unit:

‘A pioneer in palliative care, the United Kingdom maintains cutting-edge services and is the world’s best location to receive terminal care and pain-alleviating treatment.’

Polling commissioned by Hospice UK in 2017 found that

  • Only 57% of UK adults ‘are aware that services provided by hospices are generally free for those receiving them’
  • 31% ‘think hospice care is available only in a hospice building’
  • Less than half (45%) ‘are aware that hospice care is available in community settings such as at home and in care homes’
  • 20% ‘think hospice care is only for people in their last days of life, suggesting they are unaware that people with terminal and life-limiting conditions can use hospice care at any stage of their illness, not just at the very end of their life’

When people are unfamiliar with the reality of the incredible care and support of which we are capable, and when campaigners can point to gaps in provision in order to sow the seeds of doubt and fear, acceptance of assisted suicide and euthanasia is less surprising.

We do much, but we can do better, and we must do better – certainly better than assisting patients’ suicides.