Nurses face jail if they discuss assisted suicide
Nurses in the UK have been warned that they face being jailed if they discuss the option of assisted suicide with dying patients.
In a set of guidelines published by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), nurses, along with healthcare assistants, have been reminded giving patients information on euthanasia and assisted suicide is illegal.
Offering any information or contact details for the Dignitas, the assisted dying group in Switzerland is also prohibited.
However, the RCN guidelines do give nurses and other health workers advice on how to respond to and deal with challenging and difficult conversations with terminally ill patients.
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The Executive Director of the RCN’s Nursing and Service Delivery, Janet Davies, commented on the guidelines. She said: “We know that there is a real need to provide support to nurses and healthcare assistants when patients talk about or hint at ending their lives or hastening their deaths.
“Nurses shouldn't feel that asking them about these comments is giving the impression that they are assisting or encouraging that patient to take their own life.
“Such conversations might be the only time a patient discusses their worries, and it is an essential part of professional nursing practice to recognise and explore concerns with each and every patient where possible.
She added: “More than anything, what nurses want to see is a situation where they are able to provide dignified end of life care, where concerns about pain, suffering or loss of control can be discussed and managed.
“For this to happen, end of life care has to be prioritised, and patients should expect the same level of dignified and expert care wherever they die.”
The move comes after nurses were issued with separate guidelines earlier this year allowing them to pray with patients.
The rules on praying state nurses may partake in prayers only at the request of the patient and must not initiate it themselves.
Doctors in the UK are also under the same strict rules as nurses when it comes to assisted suicide and have to adhere to similar regulations which were put in place by the British Medical Association.
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