More data on end-of-life care and assisted dying is needed, according to Matt Hancock.
Matt Hancock has approved the concept of establishing a “What Works” center to collect research on the quality of palliative care in the UK and feed debates on assisted dying.
On Wednesday evening, the Health Secretary told the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Dying Well that he was “neutral” on the issue.
However, he stressed that the two concerns require a “broader discourse” in Parliament.
“I believe it is critical that any debate we have is nested in a larger conversation about how we can better serve individuals as they approach the end of their lives,” he added.
The APPG on Dying Well opposes any changes to the law relating to assisted dying and euthanasia, claiming that what is needed instead is high-quality palliative care that is accessible to all.
The APPG’s head, Danny Kruger, said there was a lack of data on people’s experiences at the end of their lives.
He said that a What Works Centre, which collects and shares evidence on specific policy areas, would collect data that is now lacking and “inform practice on the ground so that both the public and practitioners recognized what excellent practice looked like.”
Mr Kruger referenced the death of long-time assisted dying campaigner Noel Conway, who died recently after deciding to remove his ventilator, as an example of how competent palliative care can provide a dignified death for terminally ill patients.
“The fact is that Mr. Conway died in a painless and dignified manner within present law,” he stated.
“With the support of his medical staff, he was able to come off the ventilator that was keeping him alive, and to slip away without shortness of breath, without suffering, in dignity, and with his family surrounding him.”
“I adore What Works Centres, I believe they’re a terrific policy innovation,” Mr Hancock added, “but it would be very vital that it was impartial in this argument, like me.”
“I’ll have to look at the particular wording of what you want me to sign up for,” he continued. (This is a brief piece.)