MHKs vote on assisted dying training for health staff

MHKs in the chamber of the House of Keys
MHKs debated the assisted dying bill throughout an extraordinary sitting on Wednesday [BBC]

Healthcare staff on the Isle of Man must be given training to prepare for discussing assisted dying options with terminally ill patients, under new proposed laws.

MHKs have been debating legislation that would allow terminally ill patients a right to end their lives.

The House of Keys backed an amendment calling for training to be given to staff who would discuss palliative, hospice and other care which may be available.

Members later voted to support a move that ensured no healthcare professional would have a duty to recommend or provide an assisting dying service.

A bid by the island's Chief Minister Alfred Cannan to put the matter to a public vote will be decided on next month.

Earlier, members considered a range of clauses in the new legislation, including a focus on whether a medical professional can initiate a conversation about assisted dying.


Glenfaba and Peel MHK Kate Lord-Brennan said that the "onus" should be on the person seeking to use the assisted dying service, rather than it being "promoted, explored or proposed by a healthcare professional".

However, despite her concerns which were also expressed by others, members chose to support mandatory training and protecting staffs' rights not to be involved.

Garff MHK Andrew Smith sought support from members to require the island's coroner of inquests to examine every assisted dying death.

This was rejected after Dr Alex Allinson MHK, who proposed the bill, said requiring a full formal inquest would create "further anguish" for relatives.

The bill survived a second adjournment debate in 24 hours as members disagreed over protections for patients with reduced capacity, which were eventually passed.

Following an amendment from Health Minister Lawrie Hooper, if the legislation is introduced there will be a requirement for the department of health to deliver a report on the operation of the act two years after it is brought in.

Politicians also agreed on a number of criminal offences, which would relate to making false medical statements that led to someone requesting an assisted death or someone coercing a person to request one.

Mr Cannan's move to put the matter to the public via a referendum before it can become law will be debated at the next sitting, on 9 July.

Other potential amendments to the three remaining clauses will also be discussed then.

Mr Cannan told members that the "public must decide" if they wanted the bill to become law.

But Mr Hooper said he would not be supporting a referendum as he feared the Isle of Man would become a "battleground" for off-island interest.

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