Statement on Assisted Dying
Bolton Hospice’s mission is to provide the very best hospice care for everyone in need, enabling people to live well with a life-limiting illness.
We care for patients throughout their illness, helping to improve their wellbeing and quality of life. We also provide compassionate, dedicated and dignified care for patients at the end of their life.
We recognise that assisted dying is a complex and emotive issue and we respect everyone’s right to their own opinion about it. We make no judgement about those who support or request assisted dying, however the ethos of hospice and palliative care, as defined by the World Health Organisation, is that it ‘intends neither to hasten nor postpone death’.
Assisted dying is not part of palliative care practice and is not consistent with the ethos of Bolton Hospice, and we do not advocate it.
If our patients and their families hold views that are different to our own about this or other ethical issues, this would not prevent them accessing our services and support and it would not change the way that we care for them.
Sometimes requests to hasten death are expressions of fear and distress that may reflect a need for assurance that pain and suffering will be relieved and that end of life decisions made by patients will be respected.
Everyone has their own thoughts and preferences around the end of their life, and at Bolton Hospice we listen to each individual so that we can meet their needs and focus on what is important to them. We not only take care of patients' physical needs, we consider their emotional, spiritual and social needs too. And we support families and close friends, both during illness and in bereavement.
We encourage our patients to discuss their wishes with those who are important to them, and make an Advance Care Plan. We discuss natural death and explore alternatives to assisted dying if this is raised.
We believe that provision of assisted dying at Bolton Hospice would fundamentally undermine not only the services and support we provide, but also the trust between patients and our staff. Furthermore we feel that a change in the law may result in some patients feeling obliged to consider assisted dying for fear of becoming a burden on others, so a right to die may become a duty to die.
We believe the debate about assisted dying should instead focus on the right of every individual to be well cared for up until the time of death, and improving access to palliative and end of life care for everyone across the UK, no matter who they are or where they live.
Our priority is ensuring that all those in our community who could benefit from hospice care are aware of the wide range of services and support Bolton Hospice provides, and are able to access them should they choose to do so.
We will continue to raise awareness of our services in Bolton, challenge common misconceptions about hospice care, encourage people to talk about issues relating to death and dying, and work to ensure that we are truly inclusive to all those in our diverse community.