No comparison

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Paul Brownsey (Letters, 21 February) unsuccessfully compares the effects of refusal of treatment by a terminally ill person to those of assisted suicide.

In the first case, what is usually being refused is curative treatment, which may no longer be effective and may be intrusive or distressing. It would be the disease that would cause death, not a lethal drug prescribed by a doctor.

Hopefully, the person would agree to palliative measures being continued in order to give every support until death supervened – including general nursing care, pain relief and appropriate sedation.

Refusal of treatment does not do away with the need for palliative care. It is therefore inappropriate to compare the risk of financial pressure being brought to bear in the present situation to that which would be obtained if assisted suicide were legalised.

(Rev Dr) Donald M MacDonald

Craiglockhart Grove

Edinburgh

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