Royal College of Physicians faces investigation over switch to neutrality on assisted dying  


Royal College of Physicians building 

In March, the UK’s Royal College of Physicians (RCP) changed its position on “assisted dying” from opposition to neutrality after conducting a poll of its members.

Dissidents, however, have denounced this as a “sham” and now the Charity Commission has launched an investigation into the controversy.

A Charity Commission officer told the RCP, which is a registered charity, in a letter that it was “unclear how the decision to change the position to neutral was determined . . . the matter raises concerns with regard to how the charity dealt with and managed such a sensitive and high-profile subject matter.”

Apparently, the RCP council minutes state merely that “there was a general feeling that neutrality was a legitimate position”. The Charity Commission said: “Charities should ensure that significant decisions such as this are properly thought out.” If the RCP is found guilty of breaking Charity Commission guidelines, it could be reprimanded.

Before the survey the RCP leadership set the threshold impossibly high for supporters of the traditional view. It set down that it would move to a neutral position unless a super-majority of more than 60% voted for or against legalisation of assisted suicide. Only about 19% of the RCP’s 36,000 members voted in the poll.

Opponents of a change actually had a plurality when doctors were asked whether the RCP should support the legalisation of assisted suicide or whether they personally supported assisted suicide.

In the first, whether RCP should support legalisation, only 31.6% were in favour, while 43.4% were opposed. In the second, only 40.5% supported assisted suicide, while 49.1% opposed it.

Michael Cook is editor of BioEdge  




MORE ON THESE TOPICS | assisted dying, royal college of physicians, united kingdom

This article is published by Michael Cook and BioEdge under a Creative Commons licence. You may republish it or translate it free of charge with attribution for non-commercial purposes following these guidelines. If you teach at a university we ask that your department make a donation. Commercial media must contact us for permission and fees. Some articles on this site are published under different terms.

 
 Search BioEdge

 Subscribe to BioEdge newsletter
rss Subscribe to BioEdge RSS feed

 
comments powered by Disqus