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18 September 2020

Two GPs’ raise legal concerns with Royal College of GP’s regarding opposition to assisted dying

2 mins

Bindmans LLP represent Professor Aneez Esmail and Sir Sam Everington; two prominent members of the RCGP, who have today invited RCGP’s Council and Board of Trustees to reconsider its decision for RCGP to be opposed to a change in the law on assisted dying, amid serious concerns with the charity’s consultation process last year. Professor Esmail and Sir Everington are joined by The Good Law Project and Dignity in Dying who both share the claimants concerns and request for an urgent review.

The RCGP’s Council agreed in June 2019 to survey its members for their views on what position the College should take on the issue of assisted dying and “to assess whether [members’] views have shifted” since the previous consultation in 2013.

In 2013, its survey found that 77% of RCGP members preferred the College to oppose assisted dying. The 2019 survey – the largest ever conducted by the RCGP on an issue of public policy –  saw a dramatic change in members’ views, with just 46% agreeing the College should maintain its opposition; 41% being in support of a change in the law, and 11% preferring a neutral stance be taken by the College.  Accordingly, a majority supported a change to the College’s position.

Despite this notable result, the RCGP announced on 21 February 2020 that they had determined that there was ‘no membership support for the College to change its current position on assisted dying.’

The claimants’ contest that this is a irrational interpretation of the results of the consultation. They also have serious concerns over the transparency of the decision-making process.  The claimants have today therefore requested that the College reconsider its position and take a more just, reflective and representative approach on this widely debated and incredibly important issue.

Jamie Potter, Partner in Bindmans’ Public Law team, and solicitor for the GPS said:

The College’s decision-making process, and the taking a position on behalf of its membership that is so unreflective of the survey results, raises serious legal concerns.  It can only be hoped that the College will carefully reconsider its position given that the membership have made clear there is a significant support for a change.

Further details can be obtained from the press release of Dignity in Dying available here.

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