Different groups of medical professionals have spoken out both for and against the Isle of Man's Assisted Dying Bill.

Details of the bill, put forward by Dr Alex Allison, will have its second reading in the House of Keys today.

The issue of what many have dubbed the 'right to die' has divided opinion and views have been put forward on both sides of the debate in recent weeks - not least from members of the medical profession.

Here, two groups of medical professionals explain their stance on assisted dying.

Tynwald buildings, Douglas - the bill is set to have its second reading in the Keys


Around 130 health and social care professionals have signed a letter to Tynwald members detailing their concerns on the Assisted Dying Bill.

The bill, which would afford terminally ill, mentally competent adults the right to, at their request, with specified assistance, end their own life, is set to have its second reading in the House of Keys today (October 31).

Manx Duty of Care, a group of health and social care professionals who oppose the bill said: ‘There are many ethical and practical reasons why this would be extremely damaging for the Isle of Man.

‘Firstly: Safeguards are an illusion, the vulnerable cannot be protected

‘We appreciate your desire to make this bill safe, but the reality is that no amount of safeguards can protect vulnerable people from its consequences.

‘Recent evidence shows that, in every jurisdiction that has legalised assisted dying and euthanasia, there has been a steady and dramatic increase of deaths by this means and a gradual relaxation of the laws and safeguards.

‘In Oregon assisted dying has been extended to include those with anorexia, arthritis, diabetes, and hernia; and cooling off periods have been reduced or ignored without penalty.

‘In Belgium and Holland euthanasia has been extended to children and disabled babies. Canada has allowed it to people with social problems or disability, and will soon extend it to include patients with mental illness.

‘In Quebec alone between 2016 and 2021 euthanasia grew to account for about 6.1% of all deaths.’

The group has also detailed concern over vulnerable people who feel as though they are a burden to their families and caregivers.

‘Secondly: It would severely damage Manx healthcare’, they added.

‘The Health Service here is in crisis.

‘Recruitment and retention of doctors and other healthcare workers is a huge problem, resulting in long waiting lists. Wards are closed, operations are cancelled.’

They cited a recent survey from August this year by the Isle of Man Medical Society, which had 61% of all doctors who responded, of which, 74% said they think the bill would have a detrimental impact on healthcare in the island.

One third of doctors said they would consider leaving the island if the bill was approved.

‘This would spell disaster for the health service’, the group said.

‘The views of Manx doctors accord with opposition to assisted dying from the World Medical Association and the Royal College of General Practitioners among many others.

‘The Royal College of Physicians stance is that “it does not support a change in the law to permit assisted dying”.

‘Furthermore the quality of end of life care deteriorates in countries with Assisted Dying when compared with others. ‘The proposed residency requirement means that some terminally ill people from the UK would come to live on the island when already unwell and this would place a massive additional workload on health and social services. Because accurate prognosis is impossible many would be here far longer than expected, and people with terminal illnesses require intense support.’

They concluded: ‘Please continue to put your valuable time and efforts into addressing the issues we currently face within the health service, not into adding something so dangerous and detrimental to it.’


A separate group of 25 leading medical professionals in the UK have written to Tynwald members urging them to vote in favour of the Assisted Dying Bill.

The group, which consists of professors and doctors, said: ‘Modernising the healthcare system to empower people to have meaningful choice at the end of life is a hallmark of a compassionate society.

‘Evidence from the increasing number of jurisdictions around the world that have changed the law shows that legalising assisted dying is safe and popular.

‘Providing transparent choice as part of the provision of high quality palliative care promotes honest conversations about death and dying and strengthens the relationship dying people have with those who care for them. By contrast, we know a blanket ban on assisted dying forces some people to suffer against their wishes or take matters into their hands, often alone and in ways that lack oversight and regulation.

‘A vote against assisted dying is a vote in favour of a status quo that is both cruel and dangerous.

‘In recent years the British Medical Association and many Royal Colleges have dropped their opposition to law change and adopted policies of engaged neutrality.

‘This reflects the diversity of views within our professions.

‘Clinicians who are willing to support their patients through an assisted dying request now know they will receive the appropriate support and guidance from professional bodies to do so. Of course we believe the wishes of those who may conscientiously object to assisted dying must be respected. Equally those who wish to allow their dying patients choice at the end of life, under strict safeguards, must be permitted to do so.

‘What we cannot do, as clinicians, is deny dying people access to a choice that many of us would wish to have ourselves.

‘We urge you to vote for the Assisted Dying Bill.’

The second reading of the bill takes place today, October 31, with those in support of assisted dying demonstrating in front of the Tynwald building ahead of the House of Keys session.