On 21st March, the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) announced that it had adopted a neutral position on assisted suicide following a survey of its UK fellows and members. Of three options that were proposed, 43.4% of respondents thought the RCP should be opposed to a change in the law on assisted dying/suicide. The percentage wanting the RCP to support a change in the law was 31.6% and 25% thought the RCP should be neutral.
Speaking on behalf of the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales, Bishop John Sherrington, Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster, reacted to this decision: 'We are disappointed at the Royal College of Physicians dropping their opposition to assisted suicide and moving to a "neutral" position on the topic, despite a majority voting to oppose any change in the law. Parliament voted overwhelmingly to reject assisted dying, recognising that it is important to protect persons who are vulnerable. Moreover, the British Medical Association (BMA) continues to oppose assisted dying, saying their "focus remains on improving the standard of palliative care available for patients, through calling for greater investment and support to enable staff to deliver the highest quality end-of-life care". We support the BMA’s position and call for increased investment in good palliative care, which supports the dying persons in all dimensions of life for a good death, including the spiritual meaning of life.'