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Desire to hasten death
  1. Robert Twycross
  1. Emeritus Clinical Reader in Palliative Medicine, Oxford University, Oxford, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Robert Twycross
    , Emeritus Clinical Reader in Palliative Medicine, Oxford University, Oxford, UK; robert.twycross{at}

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On 11 September, the Second Reading of the Assisted Dying (AD) Bill will take place in the House of Commons. If eventually passed, it will allow a terminally ill adult (prognosis less than 6 months) resident in England or Wales to be supplied with a lethal prescription to be self-administered under the supervision of ‘an attending health professional’ (doctor or nurse). Before the prescription is issued, a High Court Judge will have to be satisfied that the person has (mental) capacity, and that the desire to hasten death is voluntary, settled and informed. The key criterion is short prognosis; the patient does not have to be ‘suffering unbearably’.

Nurses will inevitably be involved, most probably as the ‘attending health professional’. This would mean delivering the lethal prescription and staying with the patient for several hours while it takes effect. The main justification for …

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  • Competing interests None declared.