Memorandum by Macmillan Cancer Relief
1. Macmillan Cancer Relief is a national charity
that works to provide people who have cancer, and their families,
with expert nursing and medical care as well as emotional and
practical support. Macmillan Cancer Relief has been closely concerned
with the development, quality and monitoring of palliative care
since the charity was established at the beginning of the last
2. Macmillan has taken the position that,
given our present state of knowledge and the existing legal situation,
we will not take a stance on assisted suicide. Our decision is
influenced by a number of key principles which we believe should
govern an end-of-life policies and services:
Patients should be enabled to exercise
choice and make personal decisions.
To exercise choice, patients and
families need access to information about options.
Health and social care professionals
need to be sensitive to patients' personal circumstances and beliefs.
Healthcare professionals need to
be supported and trained to openly discuss end of life issues
with colleagues, patients and their families.
There should be access to supportive
and palliative care for all to enable people to die in the place
of their choice, including their home, if they so wish.
There is a need for research into
patient and carer views at end of life.
3. Macmillan Cancer Relief believes that
greater access to high quality supportive and palliative care
is vital for cancer patients. We believe that everything possible
should be done to alleviate a patient's pain and distress by managing
their symptoms and also by providing appropriate psychological
and emotional support to patients. However, we recognise that
a small number of people who are terminally ill have symptoms
which cannot be relieved by palliative measures.
4. Macmillan believes that the debate around
end of life issues has been dominated by the medical and legal
professions and the media, but that the views and wishes of patients
and carers have been absent. More robust research needs to be
undertaken to understand these views.
3 September 2004