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Patients have pleaded for help ending their lives, says Jersey doctor

Terminally ill patients in Jersey have pleaded with doctors to help them end their lives, according to a Jersey doctor. Credit: PA Images

Many patients in Jersey have pleaded with doctors to help them end their lives, according to one GP.

Dr Nigel Minihane, who chairs the Primary Care Body, has been speaking to ITV News following a debate on assisted dying earlier this week.

He says although medical professionals cannot fulfill those wishes legally in the Channel Islands, there are ways they can help.

The GMC guidelines which we have to follow [say] look, these are the alternatives. Have you looked at palliative care? What can we achieve from that? What are you hoping to achieve? And most of all we have to say unfortunately it's against the law.

– Dr Nigel Minihane, Chair of the Primary Care Body
Around 200 people attended a debate on assisted dying at the Arts Centre on Wednesday night (11 September). Credit: ITV Channel TV

Around 200 people attended a debate on assisted dying at the Arts Centre on Wednesday night (11 September).

After listening to the arguments for and against, an audience vote suggested most would be in favour of changing the law so that those who are terminally ill have the right to decide to end their own lives.

Guernsey has already ruled out such a change.

Jersey's government says it is looking to actively engage with islanders about the issue.

The review of the ethical, legal and social issues and national and international evidence has been used to inform our next steps in developing a fair, balanced, well considered and representative public review and position on the issue of considering the options and implications of supporting a system to allow assisted dying as an end of life choice.

There is good evidence from other jurisdictions that well considered and thorough public engagement is an essential step in careful exploration of sensitive, emotive and moral issues such as assisted dying.

We are now working towards the development of a public engagement process using a citizen panel methodology which will best support the outcome of a balanced public view on the key issues in the context of our Island health and care system.

Over the next three to four months, there will be a focus on identifying the key aspects we need from the engagement process to support a tendering process to ensure robust and independent facilitation of this work. Following this first step we would then work with our preferred engagement expert to agree the requirements of recruiting Islanders and expert witnesses and the appropriate timescales required. It is anticipated that the whole process up to final reporting will take up to 18 months to complete.

– Jersey Government Spokesperson