October 5, 2010
END OF LIFE ASSISTANCE (SCOTLAND) BILL COMMITTEE – PAPERS AND AGENDA 20 SEPTEMBER 2010
END OF LIFE ASSISTANCE (SCOTLAND) BILL COMMITTEE – Monday 20 September 2010
“Helen Eadie (Dunfermline East) (Lab): I have a question that is specifically for Dr Potts and which relates to his submission. I was interested to read about the relatively small number of psychiatrists that there are if we boil down the figures. I think that your submission refers to 16 consultant psychiatrists. According to the survey that your organisation undertook, perhaps six consultant psychiatrists would be willing to participate in the bill’s arrangements and to be party to the work involved if the bill were to be passed. I was further concerned when I read more about issues in rural parts of Scotland, where there might not be any access to psychiatry. Your submission raises many issues, but that is one of the most important. Will you comment further on that?
Dr Stephen Potts (Royal College of Psychiatrists, Scottish Division): Thank you for giving me the opportunity to clarify matters. My specialty is liaison psychiatry—in other words, psychiatry in a general hospital. I deal with people who are medically unwell or have surgical problems. Psychiatrists in that specialty are perhaps most likely to be approached first of all by people who are seeking end of life assistance. The sub-specialty is small; at the last count, there were 27 consultants working in it throughout Scotland. I circulated them all and, as members can see, 16 responded. The majority of those who responded would not wish to take part in such assessments. You are right: that leaves a very small number who would do so. A question is therefore raised: how would those who seek end of life assistance be able to access a psychiatric opinion? Many rural areas of Scotland, such as the Highlands and Islands, have no liaison psychiatry services at all, and there is limited access to liaison psychiatry services for adolescents, such as those in the 16 to 17-year-old age group, even in Scotland’s cities. That raises a further question. If a psychiatrist is allowed to opt out but is expected to find a psychiatrist who will not wish to opt out, how will they discharge the duty? I ask the question; I do not have an answer to it.”
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October 3, 2010
AGENDA AND DOCUMENTS RELATING TO MEETING BELOW ON TUESDAY 14 SEPTEMBER 20010
END OF LIFE ASSISTANCE (SCOTLAND) BILL COMMITTEE – Tuesday 14 September 2010
“Helen Eadie (Dunfermline East) (Lab): Good morning toour panel; I thank you for being here. I want to ask you about an issue that comes up in more than one paper—the idea of general practitioners or others in the medical profession being gatekeepers, and the power of doctors to impose their morality on the issue. Would any of the panel like to expand on that and to give a view on who, if they believe that the legislation should go ahead, the gatekeepers should be?
Professor Sheila McLean (University of Glasgow): I certainly raised that question, partly because we have seen situations in the past in other very sensitive areas, such as abortion, in which the doctor as gatekeeper assumed a significant role, arguably sometimes in situations in which the woman satisfied the legal requirements for having an abortion. It is not possible to dispose of doctors in such situations—that is the case even in Switzerland. For example, someone would at least need access to prescription medicine, so there would obviously be medical input.
The point that I was trying to make is that, if we use doctors as the gatekeepers to what could otherwise be seen as someone’s right under the legislation—if they qualify for it—we should ensure that the role is as disinterested as it can be. In other words, the role should not be affected by individual morality. If the person qualifies, they qualify. That was my point: it was not so much that we do away with doctors in this arena but rather that we ensure that their role is sensitive to the underpinning principles of the legislation.”
September 29, 2010
This meeting investigated the procedures used in other countries where assisted suicide and or euthanasia was allowed under certain circumstances. i.e. Holland, Belgium, Switzerland and the U.S State of Oregon.
END OF LIFE ASSISTANCE (SCOTLAND) BILL COMMITTEE – AGENDA AND PAPERS – 7 September 2010
END OF LIFE ASSISTANCE (SCOTLAND) BILL COMMITTEE – OFFICIAL REPORT- 7 September 2010
“Our only item on the agenda is to take oral evidence on the End of Life Assistance (Scotland) Bill. Today, we will hear from three panels. We will hear from two panels this morning then we will suspend the meeting and wait until our time zone is more in synch with Oregon, so that we can have our meeting with witnesses from there, which should take place nearer 5 o’clock.”