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GMC issues suicide guidance

GMC guidance for doctors on what to do when patients seek information about ending their lives has been welcomed by the BMA.

The advice accompanies guidance for the GMC investigation committee and case workers on how to deal with complaints against doctors on the issue, with a view to determining whether fitness-to-practise hearings are needed.

BMA director of professional activities Vivienne Nathanson said that doctors could also contact the BMA medical ethics department for information on the topic.

She said: ‘It is very helpful that the GMC has published advice for doctors on how to handle situations where a patient seeks information about ending [his or her] life, alongside guidance for its own decision makers.’

The GMC guidance for doctors combines key principles in its publications Good Medical Practice and Treatment and Care Towards the End of Life: Good Practice in Decision Making.

It says doctors should explain to patients that they cannot legally provide information that might encourage or assist them in ending their lives, and advises them to discuss the reasons for patient requests.

Read about BMA policy on assisted dying.