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Cicely Saunders International Annual Lecture 2016

04/05/2016 (17:00-20:00)

Location: Dinwoodie Lecture Theatre, Ground Floor, Cicely Saunders Institute, Denmark Hill Campus

Unintended Consequences of legislation at the end of life

Finlay140x180Speaker: Professor Ilora Baroness Finlay of Llandaff

About the speaker: Ilora Finlay is a Professor of Palliative Medicine at Cardiff University; Consultant at Velindre Cancer Centre; and Independent Crossbench member of the House of Lords. The first consultant in Palliative Medicine in Wales in 1987, she developed palliative and hospice care services across Wales and established an internationally renowned palliative care course at Cardiff University. She is National Vice President of Marie Curie Cancer Care and Chair of the National Council for Palliative Care.

Abstract: Laws are more than just regulatory instruments. They send social messages. I will examine different types of 'assisted dying' legislation and their effects. First, however, I will deal with my own Access to Palliative Care Bill. 

The Health and Social Care Act of 2012 resulted in enormous changes to the organisation and lines of accountability in the NHS. These changes appear to have eroded the financial security and any national framework for hospice and specialist palliative care, resulting in wide variation in provision. By contrast, the more centralized nature of NHS Wales has provided some stability to the sector. The variability of provision in England led me to write the Access to Palliative Care Bill, which has completed its passage through the House of Lords.

Licensing 'assisted dying' by law would represent a major change to the criminal law.  Before Parliament could contemplate such a step it needs clear evidence that the law as it stands is not fit for purpose and, if that is so, that what would be put in its place would be better.  No such evidence has been provided to date and within the last 12 months Parliaments, both north and south of the Scottish border, have rejected proposals for legalisation.

The lecture will explore evidence from around the world of the effects of 'assisted dying' legislation. The recent data reported by Oregon’s Health Division on their Death with Dignity Act shows a 26% rise in the number of deaths from physician assisted suicides in 2015, following a 44% rise in 2014.  A similar trend of steeply rising numbers of euthanasia deaths is also seen in the Benelux countries; in The Netherlands in 2014, 1 in 26 of all deaths was the result of euthanasia or assisted suicide and euthanasia is being increasingly extended to patients with mental illness.

More info: The lecture will take place 5.00-6.00pm, followed by a reception on Wednesday 4th May 2016. Professor Sir Robert Lechler, Executive Director, King’s Health Partners & Vice Principal (Health) King’s College London, will welcome guests and introduce the speaker. Closing remarks will be provided by Mr John McGrath, Cicely Saunders International Trustee.

This event is free to attend, but by invitation/application only and places are limited. Please RSVP before 30 April 2016 to Lara Klass via or +44 (0)207 848 5536.

Annual Lecture 2016 Programme

Annual Lecture 2016 Slides

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