Dr Alex Allinson is urging the public to complete the consultation on assisted dying.
The consultation, which will close January 26, came after the Ramsey MHK put forward a private member’s bill in July 2022 in a bid to legalise assisted dying.
Dr Allinson said: ‘We have had just over 1,000 people taking part in the consultation.
‘We really want to encourage everyone to take part, whatever their persuasions, because the more people’s opinions we can gather, the better the decision we can make.’
Dr Allinson said that his interest in the topic came from his experience in the medical field.
He said: ‘When I was a GP in Ramsey, I was approached by one woman who was terminally ill, and wanted to go to Switzerland for euthanasia, and she asked if I could help her.
For Dignitas, one of the things you need to access the services is a doctor’s letter, as well as membership, correspondence, and then you need to fly to Switzerland to access the services.
He added: ‘She asked me to do this, and when I went away and consulted the General Medical Council, I was told that I couldn’t.
‘That by aiding and abetting her to carry out her wishes, I will be breaking the code in terms of assisted dying, and if I did, or if I filled out a form on this, or gave advice, I could be at risk of being struck off.
‘I found it quite difficult that I couldn’t help this person, I had to be very honest with her and she was fine with that, but that created a barrier in terms of communication and openness between me and her.’
The bill has publicly received criticism from more than 50 healthcare professionals, who have published a leaflet spelling out their concerns.
Dr Allinson said: ‘There are mixed opinions in terms of the medical profession, but what I would advocate though, is this is our parliament making legislation.
‘Yes, we will listen to doctors, yes, we will take on board views. Because most of the systems that assisted dying involve doctors as the gatekeepers, they know and can make the diagnosis, they can talk about the prognosis and how long people have got, and they can judge capacity.
‘They’re ideally placed to be able to deal with this, but at the end of the day as elected representatives of the people of the Isle of Man, I would say it’s parliament’s duty to judge some of these moral and ethical issues and bring forward legislation to protect it as we’ve done repeatedly, but also to enable choice and enable options for people at certain stages in their life.’
In terms of practicalities, Dr Allinson said that medication has been improving in the field in jurisdictions which have legalised the practice.
He said: ‘There were some issues to begin with, there were people vomiting the medications, and then having problems or perhaps not taking enough medication, and it not being effective.
‘We’re getting to know far better now how different people’s metabolism absorption affects the dose that you need to give and the exact dose to give people.
‘I think as with any legislation, there will be a period of education.’
Dr Allinson believes the bill will provide the autonomy and choice to individuals who do not want to take advantage of the island’s palliative care.
He said: ‘It is not an alternative to palliative care, it is an extension to what we already provide.’
‘We know that there are people in the Isle of Man who do travel across to use Dignitas, but we also are aware that there are people on the island who take matters into their own hands and die alone.
‘Opinion polls in the Isle of Man have shown that the majority of people are in favour of it, but when we ask should it just be adults, should it be extended to those who are intolerably suffering, then the doubts come in, and that is part of the reason for the consultation, to understand how wide or how narrow people want the legislation to be.’
He added: ‘What we need to do is to have well-crafted legislation that brings in the appropriate safeguards to protect people.’
If the consultation finds that the public are in favour of assisted dying in the island, then a draft bill will go to the House of Keys and face three readings, followed by three readings in the Legislative Council, with each stage facing scrutiny, and having the chance to be derailed.