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Official Solicitor might have seemed to condone euthanasia

3 August 2001

Official Solicitor "might have seemed to condone euthanasia" Westminster, 3 August 2001--The Official Solicitor may have detracted from his role as an advocate for children and incapacitated patients, and might have appeared to condone euthanasia, says the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC). SPUC has written to express its concerns to the Official Solicitor after it was reported by the BBC that he approved the legality of draft guidance issued by the General Medical Council (GMC) on withholding and withdrawing life-prolonging treatments. The draft guidance appears to allow the withholding or withdrawing of assisted nutrition/hydration from patients who are not dying with the intention of ending their lives. SPUC's letter states: "If the BBC report is true, we are concerned lest you may have detracted from your role as an advocate for patients who cannot speak for themselves, by providing a form of approval to disputed and potentially controversial guidance under the terms of which those same patients may be treated." A number of leading clinicians and medical lawyers recently expressed their concerns about the GMC guidance in a letter published in Tuesday's Daily Telegraph. SPUC has also raised similar concerns in its response to the GMC's consultation on the draft guidance. The GMC guidance appears to: * approve withdrawing and withholding food and fluids from patients who are not dying * say that doctors must accept instructions from a patient's representative to withdraw treatment, including food and fluids by tube, despite there being no provision for this in the law of England and Wales * say that doctors must respect and follow all forms of advance directive, despite concerns that these can lead to the long-term harm or death of the patient and are not clearly recognised as being binding in the law of England and Wales.

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