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6th February 2020

BMA Surveys Members on Assisted Dying

First time GP opinion sought


The BMA is asking members what stance it should take on physician-assisted dying for the first time in a survey that launched today (6th Feb). The BMA is currently opposed to assisted dying in all forms – a position it has held since 2006. The survey, which covers all four UK countries, is the first time it has asked all of its almost 160,000 members for their views on the issue. The results of the poll will not actually change BMA policy, but they will feed into a debate at the association's annual representative meeting (ARM) in June where delegates will vote on whether the BMA should change its stance.

The survey will ask members if the BMA should support, oppose, or take a neutral stance on whether the law should change to allow doctors to prescribe drugs for eligible patients to end their own lives.

They will also be asked if the BMA should support, oppose, or take a neutral stance on whether the law should change to allow doctors to administer the drugs that would allow an eligible patient to end their life.

The RCGP conducted a similar exercise at the end of last year. The college is also currently opposed to assisted dying and the results of its consultation on whether it should change this position are due to be released later this month after its next council meeting.

A survey by campaign group Diginity in Dying last year found that 55% of GPs think that organisations like the RCGP and BMA should adopt a neutral stance on whether the law on assisted dying should change. More than 1,000 GPs took part in the poll and only a third said medical organisations should oppose a change in the law.