The debate, held in place of the hospice’s usual annual conference, focused on assisted dying.
The debate was chaired by hospice board member, Steve Harris, who is also the BBC Radio Solent Breakfast presenter. Steve encouraged comments from the engaged audience, who discussed how patients are living longer with symptoms, whether people actually had a choice and talked of professional experiences of palliative care.
Supporting Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill, and leading the campaign for Dignity in Dying, was Dame Jill Macleod-Clark, Professor of Nursing at King’s College London and University of Southampton.
Dignity in Dying advocates a change in the law on assisted dying and Dame Macleod-Clark described the organisation’s attempts to change in the law and talked about how her professional experience as a nurse had influenced her belief that giving individuals the option of choice around assisted death is required. She also talked about the safe guarding rules in the proposed new law and discussed the differences in definition between assisted dying, euthanasia and assisted suicide.
Other panellists included Dr Scheffer, who has experience as former Chairman of a regional palliative care network and was a member of the working group for the development of the Department of Health’s End of Life Care Strategy; Robert Preston, a former Whitehall civil servant and parliamentary official who has been Director of Living and Dying Well since its formation in 2010; and Reverend Canon Jane LLoyd, a Lewis-Manning Board Member and Poole Hospital Chaplain who presented a balanced and compassionate view from her position as a chaplain.
Lewis-Manning CEO, Elizabeth Purcell, who opened proceedings, commented: “Although this is a sensitive and challenging subject for discussion, the board and I felt that discussion was appropriate and that Lewis-Manning should have a role in facilitating that conversation. I am very pleased that the panel, the attendees and the board felt it was a worthwhile and interesting event. Hospices do have a place in widening awareness of end of life issues locally and nationally.”