Assisted dying: 36 people have left east of England to die in Switzerland

MPs are set to debate assisted dying. Photo: Tim Irelan

MPs are set to debate assisted dying. Photo: Tim Irelan - Credit: PA

Thirty six people from the east of England have travelled to Switzerland to end their life, the EDP today reveals.

In total more than 270 patients have left England to have an assisted death in the country, but foreign travel may not be necessary much longer if Parliament approves a hotly contested bill.

Today MPs will debate a Private Members Bill proposed by Labour's Wolverhampton South West MP Rob Marris, who wants to make assisted dying legal in the UK.

The discussion takes place on the day we reveal 36 people from the east of England have travelled to Switzerland-based company Dignitas to end their life since the early 2000s.

It makes our region the third-highest in England and Wales for people using Dignitas, by percentage of population. Mr Marris' bill proposes to allow 'competent adults' who are terminally ill and expected to die within six months to have the right to be helped to end their life.

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Jo Cartwright, of Norwich, who worked for seven years with campaign group Dignity in Death, said: 'If passed, the bill would provide a safety net for people who are worried about how they will die.

'I think only a handful of people would actually choose to an assisted death, but it's having that safety net for people so they know if they get worse then they have that option.

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'Doctors should have a right not to take part, but I think many want to do something for patients who want more choice.'

But Father David Paul, Dean of the Cathedral of St John the Baptist, Norwich, said: 'Life is sacred. It's a gift from God and it's not for us to have the power to take life away from others.

'Elderly people may either be – or feel – pressured into choosing assisted death.

'For example there may be an unscrupulous family member wanting their inheritance.' He said he believes more energy should be focused on end-of-life care.

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