Former Bath nurse campaigns for assisted dying law to be passed

Assited dying campaigner (centre) Pauline Carroll

A retired nurse has held a demonstration calling for the legalisation of assisted dying in Bath.

Pauline Carroll, who runs the Bath and Bristol Dignity in Dying campaign group, worked as a district nurse for years and witnessed the suffering and pain of many terminally ill people.

She says things need to change, but some are against this. The Assisted Dying Bill went before the House of Lords today, Friday 22 October.

In her years as a district nurse, Pauline gave end of life care to many hundreds of patients but she was often left frustrated by the limits within the health service when it came to supporting the terminally ill.

In 2014, she formed the Bristol and Bath branch of the Dignity in Dying campaign group.

They believe the Assisted Dying Bill, currently being debated in the House of Lords, is an opportunity to lessen suffering.

Pauline said: "It will provide choice to those terminally ill who unfortunately are suffering in spite of palliation, because we know that there are limitations and they would want a quicker death - they want to basically shorten a painful death."

"There's strong evidence to show the awful harm that is being done to the terminally ill and their families by not having an assisted dying law."

The campaign group 'Dignity in Dying' say the new law would prevent unnecessary suffering

There have been many attempts to get approval for some form of an assisted dying law in the past.

In 2005, Tony Nicklinson from Melksham was left with locked-in-syndrome after suffering a stroke. He and his wife campaigned for years for Tony to be able to end his life with the assistance of a doctor.

After he lost his High Court case in 2012, Tony died when he refused food and his health rapidly declined.

The current law being debated would still not include provision for someone like Tony.

Tony Nicklinson with his wife Jane

Some have raised concerns the new bill will make patients more vulnerable.

Dr David Randall is from the 'Our Duty of Care' campaign.

He said "We can never risk coming to a stage where we feel with patients that they've reached a stage where they ought to be asking for an assisted suicide.

"We can't risk culture being corrupted in that way. We have to keep treating patients and doing all we can to help them live better."

But campaigners say such fears are unfounded.

Helen Peter, one Pauline's fellow campaigners said: "I think there'a lot of misinformation about it and people thinks it's killing people - it isn't. It's people who are already dying be allowed to have a quiet, calm painless death."

This is only the early stages of the law-making process, but it has, at the very least, shown this is a conversation that's likely to continue.